Thursday, May 12, 2005

Citizen Journalists

If you haven't visited Richard Edelman's blog yet (linked on this blog) I really urge you to do so. Richard's recent post is particularly compelling. He writes of a site that's developed in Korea called OhMyNews (http://english.ohmynews.com). The site is developed by "citizen journalists" - ordinary people like you and me that have been empowered and enabled by technology to report what they see, think and hear. According to Richard, the site has attracted up to 34,000 citizen journalists. Media is being disintermediated folks and the impact may be profoundly utopian and dangerous all at the same time. Are we at a point where our trust in traditional media has dwindled to a point where we really trust news from the man on the corner more than we do from the New York Times? What about Fox News Channel? In this confused world we live in truth seems more and more an aberration of intersecting political ideologies. Karl Rove has replaced Walter Cronkite in telling us "that's the way it is." Media is just a channel of communication - word of mouth is, too. So what's to stop citizen journalists from reinventing how we understand the world around us. Hey, they all laughed at Turner when he launched CNN and quickly it became the first place we turned in crisis as we hungered to know what was happening. That hunger is growing and won't be satiated any time soon. Citizen journalists probably won't replace traditional media, but they are not going away either. As public relations professionals we must think carefully about how we are going to communicate with this deviation in the media channel. I wonder what Marshall McLuhan would say?