Citizen Reporters in the Spotlight

April 16, 2008 04:50 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
Many Web reporters know how to grab the world’s attention, but remain ignorant of the journalistic and ethical standards held by more traditional reporters.

30-Second Summary

“Citizen reporters,” writers without traditional print or broadcast journalism experience  who use the Internet to get the news out, are on the rise. To what degree should citizen reporters comply with standards of traditional journalism? And is this new breed of reporters prepared to take the heat for their sometimes inflammatory opinions?

The day after Web reporter Mayhill Fowler cast presidential candidate Barrack Obama, as “elitist” in a Huffington Post piece, she received 200 angry emails from his supporters. The LA Times quoted Fowler’s telephone interview, "It's like the liberal blogosphere has issued a fatwa against me."

Fowler, a donor to the Obama campaign, requested and received an invitation to the fundraiser where Obama made comments about “bitter” blue-collar Pennsylvanians; the event was supposed to be closed to the press. Many believed Fowler was only posing as an Obama supporter. 

Fowler is the only the latest Web journalist to gain attention with an on-the-spot scoop. Meanwhile, mainstream media outlets are struggling to create trustworthy relationships with citizen journalists. Jay Rosen of pressthink.org confides, "[N]either the industry, or people like me, know how to do it yet.”

Headline Links: How the “Bitter” debate started

Background: The rise and growing influence of citizen reporters


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