Wednesday, December 10, 2008

iReporter? No, that's an Eyewitness

Great LATimes piece fussing at CNN and its use of "iReporters" when they're really eyewitnesses. The "iReporter" provided vital information about the F/A-18D crash in San Diego -- it was awful. It was terrible.

That's not reporting.

In the piece by Patt Morrison, "But whenever the [CNN] anchor asked for hard specifics -- how many people in the jet, whether he or she or they ejected safely, the sort of thing that constitutes the core of news reporting -- the ''iReporter'' had to keep referring to what that she'd seen or heard on the local news."

A reporter weaves from a tapestry of eyewitness accounts, trained observation, facts and figures, expert commentary, and skill with the written or spoken word, depending on your platform. Saying it was terrible, it was awful. That's not reporting, with or without an "i" stuck cleverly before it in lower case.

I understand the sometimes desperate need for "i" before a word, be it "pod" or "tunes" or "reporter" or whatever the hell else we can come up with. It looks cool. It says we're about the people, we're involving the audience, we're getting cheap, unpaid, often unskilled labor and using it to our journalistic advantage. These are tough times in the news business, but at some point this all becomes a bit silly, a bit sad.

Am I against citizen journalism? No, though that's as god-awful a phrase as public journalism or whatever last year's craze was called, and I'm not convinced what people know about the world is actually helped, and is probably hurt, by reliance on this kind of mediocre content.

No comments: