Thursday, January 3

We have got to get this internet thing down some day

I'm about to pick a nit with the daily paper. I think I even beat Mediaverse to it!

This is the big story on the M cover today, though it's fairly buried in the online edition. It's a Washington Post piece about online citizen journalists. It is curiously devoid of any reference to any Memphis citizen journalists. There are no breakout boxes with any links to local blogs that would qualify as being run by citizen journalists (a dumb term, if I may say so, because it just sounds so cartoony). There is no sidebar talking about the vibrant community of local bloggers who cover local and state politics and business.

So is the reader to assume that citizen journalism is something that happens only in D.C., where the Post is, or in New York City, where the story is datelined? I think unless the CA gives some context, there's some danger of that. At the very least, it makes the CA seem out of touch to ignore this obvious bit of helpful context.

Just off the top of my head, I can name several local blogs that, in my view, provide citizen journalism just as much as Faye Anderson's does. Gates of Memphis, Smart City Memphis, Paul Ryburn (on the downtown entertainment/scene beat), Thaddeus Matthews (link NSFW today — gory pics of dead people and a bare ass are on the index page), Field Guide to Urban Memphis, and At Home She Feels Like a Tourist all do excellent original reporting and commentary. Mike Hollihan of Half-Bakered writes more often at the aforementioned Mediaverse — primarily a media criticism/observation blog — now, but I'd still list him and his blogs along with these others. And those are just off the top of my head. I am absolutely positive that there are others I'm missing. My point stands, though.

Citizen journalists exist here. Hell, Memphis seems to be the kind of place where they could thrive (so many stories to cover and relatively few professional reporters covering them). I think the paper missed a good chance to talk about what local citizen journalists do, how they do it, and why.

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2 Comments:

Anonymous jeremy said...

C'mon now, L. - with all due respect, you know the paper you work for has all the relevancy of a slug on the bathroom floor, maybe less. This might explain the proliferation of the local blogs you mention.

BTW, talked with Phil last night and heard about the accident. Glad yer OK.

Fri Jan 04, 09:47:00 AM  
Blogger Richard Thompson said...

Lindsey,

I saw the article on citizen journalists, and I considered writing something on it but I became too miffed at the fact the CA has apparently outsourced much of its feature writing to the news wire.

The Washington Post story is interesting, indeed. There are a number of 'citizen journalists' in town including The FlyPaper Theory, Smart City Memphis, Thaddeus Matthews and others. Some post on a regular basis and others do not.

I think it's also important to differentiate blogging and reporting. Even on Mediaverse, we take pains to note our "reporting," which involves calling and directly quoting sources, and "commentary," which is our analysis (read: opinion) on news-related matters.

Sometimes, people just give opinion and that's not reporting or journalistic, just free expression.

Fri Jan 04, 02:12:00 PM  

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