Are you a citizen journalist or propagandist?

4 Nov

Journalist AChatting about the evolution of social media, a friend in the industry ask a poignant question: “Are people taking responsibility for the messages they are putting out and passing on?”

The conversation brought me back to the idea of Citizen Journalism that was coined six years ago (what seems like a century given the quick pace of technological change).

Our participation in the social media space, regardless of how frequent or sparse, makes us one of the many new Journalists of our time – we fulfill the role of producing and disseminating ideas about people, places, events, and ideas.

With mass adoption of tools such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube we all seem to readily accept the power of distribution and influence that Journalism holds – but how many accept the accountability that comes with it?

Traditionally, journalists are said to follow a code of ethics which asks them to be objective, to find truth, to be transparent with their biases, and to bring relevant and useful information to their audiences.

Do you fact check what you Retweet? Do you blog objectively and/or disclose any biases you have? Do you write about what will be valuable to your audience, or is it simply propaganda for your own interests?  

As social media and consumer generated content have grown, there has been a flurry of blogs and articles about defaming and liability in the social media space. While being named in a lawsuit is an extreme, posting an unsubstantiated comment could equally do a lot of damage to your reputation or that of your business.

If you don’t already, take a few seconds before you hit submit and ask yourself: What if this was on the front page news? Would I want anyone in the world to read this comment? What are the ramifications if they did? If I was a publisher would I get sued or celebrated for this comment?

As Editor-and-chief of our own media channels we select which ideas to further and which to kill (effectively by not sharing them with others). Ideally we forge relationships with our community of writers/co-creators to produce something that informs and adds value to our audience.

So what kind of editor are you? Which section would your publication be placed in: tabloid or news? What affect will the message you are empowering have on those who view it?

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