The knock against Citizen Journalism all along has been this:
- It’s created by untrained professionals amateurs
- It has no inherent credibility, until proven
- It is not edited
We just had a whopper to, unfortunately, add credence to all three, with CNN’s iReport site carrying a report that Steve Jobs had been hospitalized after a massive heart attack. Apple’s stock took a brief dive once the report was posted.
But I’m going to be a contrarian here and say the greater blame goes to CNN.
If you are CNN, the most widely-known news brand in the world, and you create a system that allows anyone to post anything as news, you must anticipate that eventually, you’ll get pranks. And worse.
Given that certainty, to not monitor such reports is nothing but a dereliction of journalistic duty.
There is much that Citizen Journalism can do to help to further the cause of all journalism, but CNN’s “set it and forget it” approach will only serve to harm the cause.
It will be interesting to see how CNN reacts to this.
(Edited to fix a bit of sloppy writing in the ordered-list above. Thanks @ShawnKing on Twitter for pointing out what happens when unedited copy is rushed to publcation!)