15 July, 2010

Is a citizen journalist a threat to a qualified journalist?

by Anorth Mabunda

After the whole debates in the Digital Citizen Indaba on the last day of the 2010 Highway Africa conference, I came to ask myself this question: Is a citizen journalist a threat to my livelihood as a journalist?

With the rise of social networking, what Salem Fakir dubbed the crypto journalism (Face book, Twitter, Mix it, Blogs, My space etc.) which enables anyone to take part in the production and distribution of information, will media companies in future lay off qualified journalists and rely on ordinary citizens for some news bulletins?
The answer is evidently a NO! While qualified or mainstream journalists in Africa are still being blamed for lack of professionalism and ethics, let’s just think about how a story from a raw citizen journa will sound. He/she never heard of news values before and doesn’t understand the impact of the first line in a story.

Yet many ordinary citizens still see journalism as a difficult job destined for model-C graduates who can speak English with panache and not for the Anorth Mabundas of this world who have their educational back ground in Bankuna High and Bombeleni Primary School. Another challenge is the ability to use. People have the internet in the palms of their hands but they are not aware that they are much privileged, that they could be contributors in informing the nation, as Pieter J. Fourie puts it, “Even though one may have access to the new media, it mean nothing if a person or a group doesn’t know how to use it in order to gain from it”.

I think professional journalism will be always in demand as we talk about African Voices in the global media space. Qualified journalists are required to build Africa’s world wide image in a professional and reliable manner.
The rumour that citizens have revolted, that they want control over space, time and platform wouldn’t erode away qualified journalists’ role in providing reliable and balanced information to the society.

This is my opinion, wena uri yini xana ke? What are you saying?

1 comment:

Damara said...

In my opinion there is a place for both citizen and professional journalists. They both offer different perspectives and experiences.