Is a blogger a journalist free to write what they choose? Can some one writing about their own community – the epitome of citizen journalism – write freely without subjecting themselves to resident’s scorn?
Judging by the experience of Daniel Cavanagh who seems to have generated the ire of his Brooklyn New York enclave of Gerritsen Park, the answer is sadly, no. Cavanagh’s copy about local handshake deals and rowdy neighborhood youths has resulted in physical threats, property damage and intimidation. So much for the new era of civility and tolerance, so much for freedom of speech.
The New York Times piece Not Quite a Reporter, but Raking Muck and Reaping Wrath raises serious questions about hyperlocal journalists facing retribution, criticism, scorn and the ire of their friends and neighbors. It posits the question if some one cannot write critically, even if they transgress and write about some thing, one or relationship where they are personally engaged, is that in any way protected?
Hyperlocal is the commercial buzzword these days. There are large companies like AOL and its Patch sites, as well as scores of TV stations and newspapers creating local, multimedia coverage, soliciting local columns and information, posting truly granular data about a specific town or neighborhood. Is there no room for criticism? Is there no room for muckraking? Have we all gone so soft and superficial that we only care about supermarket coupons and yard sales?
2 thoughts on “Out on a Limb – Modern Blogger Faces Community’s Scorn”
“Did” we go soft? Yes, for a time we only wanted the most superficial of information, with a few coupons thrown in to satisfy our need to pay as little as possible for our every days needs. Are we still as soft? I’m not so sure. More frightened I should think. For me, I am now far less adventuresome in what I will say or write if it’s likely to ruffle feathers. Not that I’m adverse to a little feather ruffling, but in today’s world you risk harm to life and limb if so much as one feather is blown out of place. And even if the feather ruffling isn’t met with direct actions of aggression, and only grumbling, your mussing up of feathers isn’t likely to actually result in positive change. Now the stirring up on dust goes no further. It seems safer, and perhaps more sane, to just hunker down and get through life with as little mayhem as is possible . It’s a tough world and sheer survival is all one can risk pursing it would seem. Certainly the situation of the man in Brooklyn would go a long way to supporting that.
The question that needs to be addressed by society is “What Is Journalism?”. Even if it is done by a professional journalist, blogging is not journalism. There are no standards and I’m not sure there really should be.
But what there needs to be is an understanding by society of the differences between the different types of media. We are not teaching students these differences and how to recognize the distinctions between them.