Hey, where’s your journalism licence?

Via David “DigiDave” Cohn (who got it from Dan Gillmor), I came across a mind-boggling piece of commentary from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, in which former NBC correspondent and journalism instructor David Hazinski argues that “citizen journalism” needs to somehow be regulated by traditional media. As far as Hazinski is concerned, only “real” journalists can make sure that the citizen kind don’t go around making things up and not playing by the rules. As he puts it:

“While it has its place, the reality is it really isn’t journalism at all, and it opens up information flow to the strong probability of fraud and abuse. The news industry should find some way to monitor and regulate this new trend.”

Did you get that last part? The news industry should find some way to “monitor and regulate” this new trend. With what, Dave? A central tribunal of some kind that can pass judgment on who has committed acts of journalism and who hasn’t? Seriously, you can’t make this kind of stuff up. As Dan points out, the news “industry” can barely seem to regulate or monitor itself, let alone everyone else.

Hazinski trots out the old “a guy with a scalpel isn’t a ‘citizen surgeon'” argument, which completely misses the point. Journalism is not surgery, for one thing — or presumably it would be regulated like medicine is, with licensing and testing requirements, and a professional body with the ability to remove a licence. If you go to Afghanistan and start writing about what’s happening, and your work is published somewhere, and you try your best to be fair and accurate, what are you? To Hazinski, you’re nobody.

For more detailed dismantling of Dave’s attempt at an argument, see Dan Gillmor’s post, and Mike Masnick has some thoughts at Techdirt too.


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