Digital Journal hosted the first of a series called the "Future of Media" Thursday in Toronto at the Drake Hotel.
Sitting in the audience Tweeting away during the panel discussion I listened to the viewpoints of both sides, the mainstream news and the alternative news market.
The mainstream news is listening to their viewers but at the same time very leery when it comes to using those viewers reports. They have some good reasons, but the main concern is the reliability of reports generated by the unschooled citizen journalist. The overall view appeared to be that those not schooled in the field were not really qualified to report anything more than incidents in times of crisis.
The field of journalism is often viewed by those in it as a lofty tower that only individuals with a degree in the field can climb. When it comes to citizen based journalism they will throw out those articles that have dubious backgrounds. They often do this without admitting that main stream journalism has a series of the same faults. Often the tale of the wrongly reported Steve Jobs 'heart attack' story on the CNN citizen journalism site is listed as the model of citizens reporting the news. They will list that one story while failing to mention stories such as the announcement that Al Gore won the 1980 election.
For every ground-breaking story that a citizen journalist makes they have to deal with the fact that the bad apples will take those one step forwards back twenty steps.
Part of the reason is many in the fairly new field do not go out and get the hard news. When writing news as a hobby those dangerous stories aren't part of the game plan for most.
When I cover events I am often the only one in the field of citizen journalism in attendance. That speaks volumes to those in the main stream.
In order for citizen journalism to really climb the journalistic ladder reporters will have to show that they are capable of getting the hard news. Covering the county fair is nice but it's not going to change the opinions of those in the field about unschooled journalists.
Another factor that comes into play is when citizen journalism is represented by those that trash main stream journalism. If citizen journalists are to be more accepted they need to understand and respect those in the field of the main stream who at times risk their lives to bring viewers a story.
The future of journalism will depend on a mix of both the citizen journalist and the main stream journalist. Working together the coupling can bring the audience a rich education of the world around them.