prof. e.

Mass Communication, [multi]media, methodology and much, much more!

Can Anyone be a Journalist?

Posted by prof e on February 27, 2010

By now you may have heard the term “citizen journalist.” The idea is that as newspapers and news magazine fold, professional journalists will go the way of the dinosaur. In their place will rise up a league of citizen journalists who will report, write and publish the new news. Because the barrier to entry is so low, anyone with a computer and some rudimentary computer skills can own and operate the “press.” Thanks to the internet they can also reach a global audience.

We already have citizens doing the jobs of professionals. Typically they do the job for less, often for free, and the final product often reflects that. We have citizen barbers. You can recognize their kids by their trendy, non-symmetrical haircuts. We have citizen graphic artists…who feature their work on the sides of railroad cars and vacant buildings. And we have citizen pharmacists…sometimes we refer to them as drug dealers. Okay, I’m being just a bit facetious and completely unfair, but you get my point. If everyone could do it, and do a good job, there would be no need for professionals. So my question is: can anyone be a news reporter…and if so, why have we had professional journalists all these years?

Personal note to Dr. Ross…just playing devil’s advocate for a moment. 😀


28 Responses to “Can Anyone be a Journalist?”

  1. Well I guess the answer is yes anyone can be a journalist. However, as a reader we have to be careful when reading things that aren’t written by a credible journalist. These days anyone can pretty much be anything they want to be. Times are changing and yes throughout all the earlier years the need for “professional journalist” was much needed and still is. There are many avenues for anyone to report news in the new age of technology. Just be careful what you read.

  2. Megan Tingle said

    I don’t think that just anyone can be a journalist. Sure the internet has made it possible for many people to give opionins or share stories that have affected their lvies. But honestly how much of it is really news worthy. Millions of videos are being posted to facebook or youtube, but most are just for entertainment. I would hope that most people would take a step back and see that not everyone can get the facts or share the whole story. Journalist are important people to have, and in an emergeny situation I would put more trust in the journalist who is trained, then a random person who may just have a cell phone video.

  3. Georgia Hartsfield said

    I think that everyone has the ability and oppurtunity to be a journalist, however they may not have the credibility to be taken seriously. You can write about anything you want but with out the fact or serious detail the story is shot and no one will care what random words you stream across the page. That is why there is a difference between Professional journalist and wannabe journalist. That’s why in my opinon if you aren’t willing to go out there to get the WHOLE story with the facts and details, then stick to youtube,bulletins and blogs where you can express your opinion with or without the details.

  4. Chelsea Reese said

    I don’t think that just any random person can be a journalist. The most important reason being that most people are closed-minded. They have their opinons and they will without a doubt share those opinons with everyone because yes, these days it is possible for anyone’s voice to be heard. Some people will read into what those people say as the truth, but nothing can replace the work that actual trained journalists do. Good, credible journalists will get the story from every possible angle and share the facts with the world and people will know that what they are saying is well-rounded and factual. The other people out there with blogs and such will be heard by others, but most likely, they won’t be taken seriously. What journalists do is hard work, and not everyone can do it just because they are computer savy and can slap together stories and call it news.

  5. Mario L. Garcia said

    Technically I believe that anyone can be a journalist, meaning to write down their own eye witness accounts. That being said i think that their is still a need for professionals because they have been trained in the area. A journalist is very skilled in writing techniques unlike many of the people in the world, also they bring something more important to the table CREDIBILITY. If just some average joe was writing about something they did or something they saw there is nothing stopping them from lying unlike journalist. Although you cannot believe all the information a journalist puts out i would trust them over someone who isn’t qualified in the field.

  6. Patrick Smith said

    Anyone can technically be a journalist. Whether they are any good or not is another question all together. Think about it, journalist cannot be in everyplace at ev everytime. So, we kind or depend on those “civillian” journalist list. They cruize throughout the cities at night with their video cameras and what not. They catch things on camera and often get them from closer up then some “professional” reporters and camera people. So yeah anyone can be a journalist if they set their minds to it.

  7. Bryon Mick said

    I believe that with the advancement in technology such as cell phones including both camera and camcorder abilities with increases in resolution steadily happening, it is possible for “everyone” to be a journalist. After all you can shoot a video and have it to youtube within minutes and this can be the breaking news in a more personal perspective. However even though everyone can be a journalist it is the credentials that truly seperate the proffesionals from the amatuers in the quality of work.

  8. Monique said

    Before I answer your question, I have to say, graffiti is a legit and awesome form of art! Yes, I understand it’s wrong to do it on property that isn’t yours, but there is plenty of talent in some graffiti pieces! I’d love to attempt it myself some day- though of course, not on anyone’s property 😉 Maybe I’ll visit the junkyard or Lowe’s, pick up some metal scraps. Now as for citizen pharmacists… jk 😀

    I don’t think citizen journalism will be accepted, as a whole, as actual journalism. People are gullible, but they’re also very skeptical as well. They want to see professionalism, they want to know that the service or product they are getting is legit. It’s why people are so comfortable with brand names- my stubborn mother has certain food items that she will only buy one brand name of- even when we argue that the generic is almost half the price of the brand name, she refuses to sway from her precious name brand product. Related more to journalism- the only celebrity/gossip-ish magazine that I truly trust is People. Others, I am skeptical of; they don’t seem as strict when it comes to fact-checking, since they want to be the first to expose the latest scandal. Yet- I’m not going to lie- I will still occasionally flip through an issue of Ok! or In Touch. But I also don’t completely trust what I read in these magazines. I don’t even always trust what I see- Photoshop, though I love the program, is to blame. Photoshop in some thigh cellulite with a few clicks, and you have something to gossip about.

    So I suppose what my opinion is that citizen journalism can be fun and entertaining to read, and it can even be very informational at times- but I personally will only trust sources I find legit- with true, professional journalists.

  9. Alex said

    Can anyone be a Journalist? Well, this is like asking if anyone can be a Meteorologist or a Lawyer or a Dentist or a Janitor… ad infinitum. Generally, social norms dictate that in order for someone to be competent in a particular vocation, he or she must possess a certain credential. This is the first step in setting up rules which neatly stratify and control a society. This question, as it is posed, sets the stage for a fallacious retort known as argumentum ad verecundiam — argument from authority. A complete dingle-berry would say, “Only a Journalist can be trusted to deliver news. Because, after all, he went to college and was given a degree which proves he is qualified.” It’s exactly the type of thinking the Power Elite wish for ordinary citizens to possess. In other words, unless someone with perceived authority tells us what true is, we have no Godly way of discovering truth for ourselves. How dare a reasonable human being aspire to understand anything based solely upon one’s own volition or experience? Of course, buyers beware in any circumstance.
    So does a farmer need a weatherman to know if it is going to rain tomorrow? Well, sure, if the farmer is a recently laid-off journalist who decided to take up farming and has little experience with predicting weather change. So the key word here is experience. All anyone can do is present what they experience as openly as possible with as much detail as they can provide. Obviously, the practice of Journalism needs to be funded, and what scares professional journalists the most is the downsizing of the industry due to technology. But this is a consequence of a free marketplace.

  10. Stefan Creighton said said

    The New form of reporting the news is “citizen journalist.” The newspapers and magazines are on there way out. This is a new time, a new age, The age of World Wide Web the computer and websites where anyone can say what they want, anytime they want, so what is news, Who can you trust, there is a very low barrier in who reports the news. With the computer anyone can reach the global audience. I say Yes, anyone can be a news reporter, there not way anyone can stop this, the cat out the bag, so we are just going to, have to, deal with the new way of reporting , the “citizen journalist.” The new professional journalists is the first person to report the NEWS.

  11. Labrittany Coleman said

    Can anyone be a journalists? Not necessarily can anyyone be a jornalists, because they may not have the proper skills to compare to a journalists. Journalists have to have a lot skill to become one, as in reading,writing and computer skills. Journalists jobs today are very hard to get because the way our econmoy is changing. The reason i think people would do a journalist job for free because they love what they would do on a day to day basis as in writing and finding research on the internet and bringing out the new news in the media world. So no i dont think just anyone can be a journalists because there requirements to that certain field.

  12. Daniella Cauffiel said

    Obviously anyone with the right materials is able to do a journalists job. Not just anyone can do an amazing job like a professional journalist can though. Professional journalists are trained and spend many years learning how to do what they do. They are taught the structures and how to keep their audiences attention. Just your average Joe does not know half of the secrets and rules of a journalist’s job. Although there is the exception of the few people who are naturally good at writing. I think that as long as they are not getting paid to write it we, as the readers, should not have to pay to read it. I believe when people buy something that they are going to read they expect the professional journalist partly because it is easier to believe what they have to say. For now there is always going to be that group of old fashioned people who will only believe the professional, but soon enough there might be none of the old fashioned people left. Then we will be stuck with people who believe everything they see.That is where “citizen journalists” come into the business big time. If the professional journalists system dies America would be losing tons of jobs therefore I think it might be hard to lose. I think “citizen” journalism will still exist but only mainly online for people to read for free.

  13. Greg Morrell said

    With every profession there is it requires lots of skill, training, and education to do it. Personally I think that almost anyone can be a citizen journalist because they have to tools at their hand to do so, but say that they will replace regular journalist, I think not. Even though print press is declining in popularity, style, and sales, it will take a long while for it to extinct completely. As much as people look to their computers or Iphones for their news they still need the source to get it from which is the newspaper companies. Now the paper itself being printed may die out in the distant future, but the journalist never will. People will always pick a trained and skilled professional for a job that they need done. You wouldn’t hire a random guy that has read up on plumbing and has a wrench over a trained professional plumber to fix your toilet would you? That is exactly why the professional journalist cannot be replaced.

  14. Kameron Wilhite said

    Well guess in all reality anyone with right materials and facts can be a journalists. But as an indivdual I think you have to figure out the writers credibility. I think you should be asking yourself who is this person and is he/she a professional or just some average joe writing what they think is right and forming their own opinion. Personally when I read something for me to believe it i always look at the authors name and to see if it says doctor, specialist, scientist, etc. Just to know that this person is educated and is mostlikely correct. So my opinion is no that not just anyone that writes well and knows how to work a computer is a professional journalist! But with all these non-professional journalist writing it is what they like to do but in all reality they are taking jobs from people who have went to school for journalism and I really don’t think that is right.

  15. Johnathen Vigil said

    I am majoing in jounalism, and i beleive that only true jounalist can be jounalist because they get the facts striaght and they learn not to be opionative (unless that’s there job). I think jounalist can uncover facts a blogger or citizen will never have the resources to uncover. Last i checked if you want to ask questions to anyone of importance you more than likly have to have a press pass to even ask the question. A citizen will not be able to have the inside scoop and a professional will get the story he/she is assigned.

  16. Quaneisha Collins said

    Yes any one can be a journalist. It is very easy for anyone to do it because it does not require much, except that you have facts and an opinion. Some times people are the first on the scene of crimes or, just feel like sating their beliefs about something that they feel strong about. This is not harmful because there are people that can do many things and do not need to be professional or be recognized as so. The reason that we do have professionals is because it is their passion, and they are willing to write on what ever is given to them. If a person is not a professional they are most likely only writing on topics that are of interest to them.

  17. Lacey chesser said

    Yes, everyone can be a journalist but not everyone should be one. Citizen journalists I do not think will wipe out real journalists, because who will find the stories for the citizens to write about. Also citizens are not as good of writers as real journalists. Also real journalists can provide an unbaised opinion, usually people who write online like to write about their opinions.

    I do not think that journalists will fade out because citizen journalists will not fully be able to replace them.

  18. Angelina Arriaga-Lucero said

    Yes, I suppose anyone can be a journalist but it does not mean that they should. I guess we have professional journalists because of their credibility. Many people have their favorite journalists and news anchors because they trust what they have to say. Citizens without degrees and experience may have less credibility than those with those assets. Anyone can gather news and write about it; however it is up to the public to actually believe what is being portrayed. Creating news reports sounds like fun but I do believe that there should always be professionals, with experience to provide news that is based on serious global and nationwide issues.

  19. Patrick Carey said

    I do not think that anyone can just be a journalist. People seem to think that just because they have an opinion and a computer that they can be a journalist and I don’t think it works that way. I think that you have to be educated in the field of journalism to know what you are doing. To understand the ethics of journalism, the writings, the teachings is what need to be a full fledged journalist. You can’t just be someone who has a computer and an opinion who writes that is not journalism that is someone just giving their opinion.

  20. Josiah Rodriguez said

    You make a great point professor and with Dr. Ross’ presentation on citizen journalism this week, I was able to gain some more perspective on the topic. One point I would like to make though is that journalist in the early Roman times, as Dr. Ross presented, started out as these “citizen journalists.” They were the professionals of that time, so it needs to be addressed that journalism had already started by amature writers.

    Journalists, according to Websters, are “professional writers for a news medium”and thus to be labeled as a journalist would need to carry some professionalism behind it. Technically because the bar to publishing words online is so low, anyone could become a so-called “journalist.” You don’t hear about “citizen lawyers” or “citizen doctors” because there is so much complexity to those jobs. Especially in a digital age, as you pointed out, it is much easier to get your writings out to a mass audience like a professional journalist working for print.

    You make a good point on pay for hire. I don’t think citizen journalists do it for pay (some might for getting their writing out to hopefully get noticed by a publication) and thus, if they can do a good job, why not consider them a journalist?

    The ultimate point though that makes me stand on why not anyone can be a journalist is the basis of professionalism. Citizen journalist do not carry libel insurance like professional journalist, so they may twists facts and not use proper sources to produce a correct story. Also, since they are not paid for it, these people may not use grammar properly or proper journalism structure. I think that the term “citizen” should be ripped from that titled and changed to amature journalists becasue, as Dr. Ross’ pointed out, the early and trusted journalists were citizens before the age of professional journalists. So unless you are a paid writer or understand the proper writing techniques journalists must follow, then no…not everyone can be a journalist.

  21. jose lozano said

    I dont think that anyone could be a “news” reporter. The news is something that is suppossed to be un biasaed and contain all of the information. ordinary citizens have little to no experience or training in how to keep their opinions out of the news. Most of the time they arent reporting “news” they are reporting their opinions of something that happened.

  22. Lisa Hughes said

    Citizen journalism is a good way to get easy and quick new delivered to the public. However, it is not real journalism. There is a reason that there are professional journalists who go through years of schooling to effectively reach their audiences, they learn the correct fundamentals and how to write efficiently. This is not a skill everyone has or can acquire it takes an education and practice. I like having the printed professional news in front of me and I think it is still the most beneficial to get the news that I want. I like the delivery and the professionalism of the writing and I know that everyone can meet my need on that. Citizen journalism should be limited to blogs not an academic source to be a notification for news.

  23. Damon Chiles said

    Citizen is a fast and covenant way to hear news. But the news is not always accurate. Journalism is a profession and they have gone through school to earn their credibility. Everyone that researches a subject does not make them creditable. Most journalists give both positions I feel as though citizen journalist are more bias.

  24. Robert Garcia Jr said

    I think to an extent, yes they can be but would they be taken seriously. That is for the public to decide. I dont go to youtube realigiously and so i wouldnt see these types of journalists. I also think that the older generation wouldnt go to youtube for their news as well. Most of the world will turn to the professionals whom did their time to become what they are good at and not some kid with a camera phone and talking what comes out first and isnt rehearsed. No thanks.

  25. Doug Kenyon said

    Reporting the news is easy! Getting it right is the HARD part. Being neutral is an important detail left out when the citizen journalist joins in. They are there because they may have a stake in the story. Professionals are there because it is FRONT PAGE worthy news. There are some stories presented by the MOB that are worthy and may not have hit the news if they weren’t there but most of the time it’s the petty stuff that gets reported. Just be careful of what you read as fact, ask Dan Rather!

  26. Tyler Shomaker said

    There will always be a place for professional journalism because citizen journalists get most of their news from news organizations. I think citizen journalism has its strengths but it has more downfalls. Citizen journalism allows everyone to make a difference but this comes at a cost. Citizen journalism my be unfair or biased information. They could be opinionated, false, or no attributions included. News can be blogged about but leave the making news to the professionals who have experience in the field. Journalism is a world for reliable facts and figures not for people who may not have the same standards. If anyone can be a journalist then why do we even have news organizations in the first place. News cannot survive without their organizations and citizen journalists depend on these organizations as well.

  27. Whtiney Johnson said

    I dont think that just anyone can be a journalist. I think that it takes a special person just as any job. I think that citizen jounalism leaves out a lot of accuracy and facts. I also think that citizen journalism would be more opinionated than anything which is a real issue because people want to know whats going on in the world not how the journalist feels about a certain situation. There is a lot that comes to being a journalist. As stated in the lecture today, some of the news criteria is timeless, proximity, conflict, prominence, human interest, consequence, usefulness, nolvelty, and deviance. With that being said, it is up to the journalist to use his/her discretion as to whether or not a particular story is worther of being in the news and in my opinion I dont think that everyone is capable of using their personal judgement to make these decisions.

  28. Victoria Gibson said

    Not everyone could be a great journalist. Journalists are the poeple that relay the news to a community, some do so better with less bias than others. If the task was completely up to citizens to write news stories, we wouldn’t do it. This is another classic example of people trying to be experts with little to no experience on what they are talking about. Yes, some poeple are fantastic writers and could convince you aliens are real but those are not the poeple writing these journalistic entries. Between work, college, being a productive citizen, who has time to write stories without being paid especially if that is not your profession? The people that sit at home all day and have nothing better to do. They write about what is only important to them and there wouldn’t be stories about actual important things in this world. Journalists have a name and job for a reason and I have to admit they are necessary.

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