Ye Olde Swimming Hole

current, insightful, yet nostalgic

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

When We're All Citizen Journalists, Who Will Help Out?

The advent of blogs, YouTube, podcasting and other Web 2.0 technologies that turn us all into citizen journalists is very exciting and is changing the balance of communication power. I don't need to explain that here. However, there is at least one major downside I see to this new revolution. While it's great that every person now has the power to publish and broadcast, hopefully they don't all start acting like reporters.

To illustrate my concern, look at these photos submitted by a citizen CNN reporter through its IReport service following an avalanche that buried cars in Colorado. While the footage is interesting, wouldn't it be better if the person taking the photos were helping out instead of snapping pictures?

While this argument may sound absurd, let me give another example. I once wrote for the student newspaper at the university I attended. One night I got a call about a water main that had broken and was flooding a house. I took my camera and my notebook to follow the story. When I got there, the family was desperately trying to remove their personal items from their basement before it completely flooded. They needed all the help they could get. I set my camera and notebook aside and waded into the water to help them, as did most everyone else on the scene, except for two photographers/reporters from local newspapers. They were busy just snapping pictures, and when they were finished with that, they left.

My concern is that people will become so focused on getting great footage or photos that they will allow others to be injured or their personal property harmed as they simply stand by and watch, while the cameras are rolling.

Let's keep Web 2.0 rolling and keep the information coming, but also don't think great footage is more valuable than helping out those in need.


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