Your grandmother can do it on her laptop. Your neighbor’s kid can do it on his phone. And we, as trained journalists, can do it as well.
It’s 2019 and literally anyone can publish content online. Degree or not.
Often called “user-generated news,” this refers to any type of content that has been created by contributors or, using a better term, fans. People have always been around newsworthy events, but only now do they have the means to report them thanks to digital devices, social media and online platforms.
For example, with a mobile phone, you can take a photo, write a caption or story, and send it to a news source in minutes. And you can certainly do so faster than a news outlet can get a reporter to the scene.
Consequently, companies are broadening the definition of the word journalist, in that anyone with knowledge and information can publish, as long as they have access. Formal education for journalism is no longer required to be a reporter.
And this is where the danger lies.
If coming from anyone, how can we be sure the content we see is accurate and truthful?
The purpose of journalism is to empower, inform, educate and entertain with the utmost honesty and integrity.
It’s up to us, the trained media professionals, to ensure that we are telling stories that are factual, interesting, relevant and intriguing. It’s more than just publishing content. It’s about research, interviews and interpersonal communication. It’s also about discipline and ethics. It’s about taking a message and turning it into magic. It’s about being a voice for the voiceless.
That’s why journalism still exists. We are changing and evolving, sure. However, the need for trained professionals is even more important.
We have a service to provide, a duty to uphold and a code of responsibility to oblige. And that is not something that just anyone with a smart phone can do.