Saturday, October 15, 2011

Should journalists ID themselves when covering public events?

Journalist-turned-prof Kenna Griffin of Oklahoma City University has an interesting - and to me, disturbing - blog post recounting how another j-t-p recently said at a public event that journalists should identify themselves before live coverage of such events.

The other j-prof was none other than Jacqui Banaszynski of Missouri. The idea of tweeting, blogging or whatever else passes for live coverage of a public event these days made her "uncomfortable with this kind of stealth world."

Well, yes, it is uncomfortable. But when you appear at a public forum or other public event, c'est la guerre.

As one commenter pointed out he, as do I, usually takes some time to introduce himself to the key players in the room, if nothing else as a courtesy and as long as that's practical. And I generally don't file live - I like to digest things for a few minutes - because I have learned, sometimes painfully, during the years that it is best to engage my brain before my keyboard (and this from someone who started out doing live radio and TV reporting).

Banazynski may express those nagging misgivings that tug at many of us just from a purely human sense that it's probably not a good thing if the world becomes one big "Truman Show." But she also needs to get a dose of reality.

The world, not just journalists, is equipped with smartphones and wireless and the ability to go live from anywhere at about any time. Journalists have no more of an ethical responsibility in those situations to flag themselves than anyone else in the audience who is perfectly capable of performing an act of "journalism."

Perhaps that is the real source of her unease, that "public" events are now truly public.

Does the technology change things? In some cases, yes, but if you somehow felt more comfortable with the old paper-and-pen crowd covering things that your words and actions were not going to be taken out of context or misconstrued, think again.

As Griffin put it:
Any person can live report information from a public happening. This is a fundamental right as a citizen. Therefore, people should be careful not to say things in public that they don’t want mass disseminated, especially in today’s tech-savvy world.
Those are words of wisdom for everyone, not just those in the public eye, however fleeting.

Or, to borrow from the old carpenter's phrase: Think twice, speak once.

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At 10/24/11, 3:20 PM, Anonymous Lindsay said...

I found your blog by googling "journalism blogs." I am a former newspaper editor but I left my job to start a dog walking and pet sitting business. I still get my writing fix by maintaining a blog on mostly dog behavior and training.

At 10/26/11, 1:13 PM, Blogger Doug Fisher said...

Nice blog.
Thank for checking mine out. Hope it's useful.


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