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Same rules for all: citizens and professionals

by on 27 Sep, 2011

It is no coincidence that The Times today has a page of debate about the role of professional journalists as Blottr.com claims to have 1,000 “citizen journalists”.  Can’t show you The Times articles bacause of its fire wall.

We know the perceived state of professional journalism: ethically challenged and less able to serve its purpose than it was.

Trust and empowerment

“Citizen journalism” has some of the qualities which replace the faults of professional journalism: it is by “real people” and therefore, it seems, authentic.  Blottr’s founder says about his citizen  journalists in Press Gazette:  “[They are] the people on the street, we trust them, we empower them.”

Blottr has 60,000 registered users in the UK and is branching out from it base in London, where it launched in August 2010, to other UK cities.  It carries a blend of very local with national and international news and comment.

The international coverage today includes a report on the electoral success of the Pirate Party in Berlin elections.   I didn’t see that in other media.  Interesting how this new party based on civil liberties and an attack on copyright is doing well.

The difference about Blottr, says techcrunch, is that “it attributes credibility to each story based on factors like how ‘influential’ the author is on Blottr, how many other people have contributed to the story and how many times its been shared on Facebook and Twitter or been bookmarked.” And that Times firewall is part of the problem, says Blottr’s founder, Adam Baker: the traditional press is going backwards: smaller teams and less able to get to the scene.

Questions about Blottr

Blottr is aiming at the gap left by declining local papers.  Its biggest spike in users was in August during the riots, according to Alexa.com.  But is veracity in reporting the riots has been questioned.  As has Blottr’s attribution of photographs.

That brings us back to the debate about professional journalism.  If professional journalism is to have a new set of rules, then they must apply to all journalism whatever the adjective used before the craft.

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