Wordblog: ‘Saddam video is not citizen journalism’

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I held off on the Saddam hanging video thing – I assume to the disappointment of all of those people who, according to my stats landed here having searched for it on Google.

Call me old-fashioned but I don’t really see the point of official pictures and video of an execution, never mind unofficial ones. That’s just me.

Still, Andrew Grant-Adamson has an interesting response to an article by Tim Luckhurst in The Independent on Sunday. It caught my eye less for its topic and more as the Independent article is a great example of the general ignorance of what ‘citizen journalism’ is.

Claiming that we can all ‘set the news agenda’, Luckhurst begins the article

It takes only one person with a camera phone for news editors to start losing control to the citizen journalists, as demonstrated by the violent images of the death of Saddam Hussein

Grant-Adamson isn’t convinced by the argument that this is some kind of zenith in Citizen Journalism as Luckhurst claims.

We cannot accept that any picture, video or account of an event that comes into the public domain is journalism, citizen or otherwise, without stripping all meaning from the word.

I agree. But for me the idea that this is an example of editors losing control to CJ’s is just nonsense.

Traditional broadcasters and newspapers were confronted with the biggest story yet to emerge from what Americans call “participatory media”, television editors term “user-generated content”, and participants define as the era of citizen journalism.

No, no, no. The hanging video was, for want of a better word, citizen distribution, that’s it.

As Grant-Adamson so rightly says:

What has changed is the means by which material such as the execution video can come into the public domain and immediately by-pass the mainstream media. Its widespread distribution also challenges the role of the press and broadcasters as arbiters of taste and decency.

That raises big enough issues without muddying the water with talk about citizen journalism.

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