Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Are we not citizens?

Jeff Jarvis, who must be a Devo fan, writes Are we not citizens?:
At the Online News Association, the editor of a newspaper’s online site stood up and said passionately, almost tearfully, that she was tired of hearing others refer to themselves as “citizen journalists.” She declared, “I am a citizen, too.” I’ve heard that a few times and I have two replies: First, if you want the citizens to see you as citizens, then you need to be willing to see the citizens as journalists. Second, I ask: What does it mean to be a citizen? What is your role as a neighbor? What are your responsibilities as a member of the community?

The old rule, which I didn’t necessarily buy but just assumed was right, was that journalists should not get involved in their stories. Yet today, that sounds more like the prime directive for crew members of the Starship Enterprise than the ethic of journalists who are supposed to serve their communities. And it sounds like one more way that journalism has tried to separate itself from the public it serves and to set journalists apart from their neighbors.
Must be a Star Trek fan too ;-)

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