Nishat Kurwa on Tuesday, Jul. 24th
Gone are the days of major news agencies fighting the tide of citizen participation in news gathering. At least in public, organizations like CNN even encourage non-professionals to contribute to their coverage, on their own terms and platforms though it may be.
But as Turnstyle friend Chas Edwards notes over at AdAge, some professional journos still can’t resist knocking the tools (at least, the ones they didn’t build) that enable amateurs to compete:
As Matthew Ingram points out at GigaOM, this kind of criticism has become a predictable rant: members of a professional community are never pleased when the amateurs get a chance to compete.
“This isn’t really that surprising: it’s the same kind of criticism that has been made about blogging, citizen journalism and Twitter, among other things — and in each case the critics have been somewhat right, but mostly wrong…. Running through many of these criticisms is a kind of anti-amateur argument: real photography should be left to professional photographers, real journalism should be left to professional journalists, and so on.”Traditional publishers in the 1920s expressed similar disdain for an upstart weekly magazine that summarized news for the on-the-go professional: Henry Luce’s Time Magazine.
No doubt it’s a bummer when an amateur fill-in-the-blank gains access to professional tools and produces — for free, just because he or she cares — good content that competes with stuff that erstwhile could only be created by a paid professional. (I know, these amateurs produce crap too; and so do the pros – turn on your TV and click upward from Channel 2 to 200 and see if it’s all ready for prime time.)
In the case of media, there are two kinds of tools that were once too expensive for the average Joe: the tools of production (a printing press, an Arri video camera, an Avid editing suite, etc) and the tools for distribution (delivery trucks, some rented spectrum on a broadcast satellite, an expensive pay-to-play deal with a cable operator, etc). New digital technologies have broken down many of these barriers to entry. You can shoot HD videos on your iPhone, publish your magazine on WordPress, your photo-journal on Tumblr or Instagram, and the work once done by delivery trucks has been supplanted by search engines and social sharing.
Most of the time greater competition creates higher quality stuff at lower costs.
To read the rest of Chas Edwards’ argument and feel a little sheepish if you’re one of those hater professional journalist types, visit AdAge.