Claiming there is too much unfettered speech by “citizen journalists”, one journalism professor and former MSM reporter insists that the time has come to impose some fetters.
Having just anyone produce widely distributed stories without control can have the reverse effect from what advocates intend. It's just a matter of time before something like a faked Rodney King beating video appears on the air somewhere.
Journalism organizations should head that off. Citizen reports can be a valuable addition to news and information flow with some protections:
• Major news organizations must create standards to substantiate citizen-contributed information and video, and ensure its accuracy and authenticity.
• They should clarify and reinforce their own standards and work through trade organizations to enforce national standards so they have real meaning.
• Journalism schools such as mine at the University of Georgia should create mini-courses to certify citizen journalists in proper ethics and procedures, much as volunteer teachers, paramedics and sheriff's auxiliaries are trained and certified.
And who, may I ask, are YOU to determine how and whether I am permitted to fully and freely exercise freedom of speech and press under the First Amendment of the Constitution. Indeed, what possible penalty would or could you enforce against those of us who metaphorically flip you and your “journalism organizations” the bird when we continue to publish our material online or operate an unregistered Xerox machine? Or do you ultimately wish to establish a system whereby “registered journalists” and “journalism professors” grant nihil obstat and imprimatur to newsletters and blog posts before publication and distribution are permitted? After all, your so-called “professional standards” are nothing less than a call for restrictions – possibly enforced by the jackboot of government authority – upon a liberty that is not only ours by nature, but also which is enshrined in our Constitution. Your column is nothing less than a call for a grant of monopoly status to traditional media and to us the theory of a “living constitution” to make that document’s guarantees of freedom a dead letter.
H/T Captain’s Quarters, Hot Air, Daily Pundit, Stop the ACLU, The Glittering Eye
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