Old Media Adopts New Journalist Stepchildren
By Eric Lin, Thu Nov 04 02:00:00 GMT 2004

Better technology and broader acceptance have started making journalists out of bloggers and cameraphone shutterbugs.


Citizen journalists have gotten attention from analysts and the media, but they have been confined to their own little corner of the Internet. While the blogosphere has had some impact on mainstream journalism, it has not entered mainstream media nor is it considered professional reporting by most readers. Recently, because of increased acceptance either by readers, those who control the media, or both, the role of the amateur journalist is no longer relegated to a fringe existence online.

Since the Web is more flexible than traditional media, it's no surprise that the change began on the Internet. This summer CNN invited bloggers to join in its online coverage of the US political conventions where each party's presidential candidate was officially elected. This was also the first year that bloggers were given media passes to these events, although they have gotten media credentials in the tech sector for quite some time. News feeds from political blogs were also incorporated into CNN's coverage as well, not just bringing bloggers into CNN, but incorporating CNN into the blogosphere.

It was easy for desktop bloggers to make the leap to mainstream media, after all they use the same technology. But thanks to the advent of megapixel cameraphones and advanced handsets with video recording, pictures and video submitted by mobloggers are starting to appear in mainstream news media as well. Papers in Europe have featured pictures from cameraphones on their front pages. Most notably, the largest Dutch newspaper, De Telegraaf, printed a picture of the murdered corpse of filmmaker Theo Van Gogh caught by a passerby with his cameraphone. The picture was the only one available of the exposed corpse with knives still stuck in the body. As was illustrated by an earlier case in Brisbane, cameraphone users or digital shutterbugs are usually anywhere news happens, so they are not only there first but can take more revealing pictures before official photographers ever get to the scene.

The line between content producer and content consumer is continually blurring, as the mobile devices we carry with us every day become more capable of producing high quality media. It seems likely that the line between traditional media and new media is blurring as well. If traditional media outlets are finally picking up content from modern sources, it is also likely they will start to produce some modern content of their own. Some newspaper journalists are already blogging for their papers, but these are typically self-contained entities. Despite the rise of the web and blogs, most people still turn to traditional media sources for their news. Instead of an open, new media news source displacing the old guard, it now seems possible that traditional media will co-opt new technology, incorporating it into their coverage, and using it to maintain their position at the top of the news food chain.