A citizen journalist is an effort to claim status for folk who are not being paid to report. If you are not being paid, and not subject to a publication which pays, you have no claim to be a journalist. Well, you can claim it but claiming does not make it so. If you are a citizen journalist not being paid and you think you are good enough, apply to a place that pays. Otherwise join those enough who are not citizen journalists and are not doing real journalism and either blog away for free with no expectation of financial regard. Or monetize your site in some way.This is in reaction to ay Rosen's extensive post on Mayhill Fowler and all the HuffPost OffThe Bus background which is interesting if you have the time to read it but is otherwise not very helpful in justifying anything.
The fact of the matter is that HuffPost is where the buck stops on applying some ethics to the quasi-journalism that comes from its unpaid writers.
The entire setup is not enticing -- at least to me. I have been paid all my life to write, much of that time as a journalist. Journalism is difficult, the very opposite of writing a rambling piece which quotes material that was meant to be off the record.
This was shabby, without any reference to the effect which if may have had or will have on things.
HuffPost's head was off on a cruise when this was going on. I know little about Jay Rosen, but I have been around the Web long enough to realize that established publications who purport to be reporting the news have a leg up on citizen journalism. a flossy term for a venture capital operation that has managed to get hard work for free from thousands of aspirants. Or off the cuff and mediocre material from people who are known who want a popular platform.
Money is running HuffPost. Their choice not to pay writers is an insult.
It puts their willing subjects in the obvious position of needing to find little opportunities to blow up big stories.
Maybe someone will now offer Mayhill a job if she wants it.
Citizen journalism isn't a hypothetical in this campaign. It's not a beach ball for newsroom curmudgeons, either. It's Mayhill Fowler, who had been in Pennsylvania with Obama, listening to the candidate talk about Pennsylvanians to supporters in San Francisco, and hearing something that didn't sound right to her
As far as I am concerned, it is a question. Do we credit the ethics of an operation that is wanting to fly economically and will not pay their writers? Nothing that I read in Rosen's piece suggests that anything close to the expectations of a professional news operation were applied to Mayhill by the HuffPost folk.
And why should they? This is the Internet after all.
And Rosen asks why Meet The Press airbrushed Mayhill out. Because they rightly did not want to play her up and give credence to a category of citizen journalist. I say good for them.
The final issue is that only the HuffPost's "prestige" could have given this story legs. I have consistently sensed that HuffPost is unreliable at the point of being a professional news operation.
Nothing that Rosen says alters this impression.