ITV News falls into the citizen journalism trap
ITV News are to “air citizen reporters’ videos”, according to The Guardian. ‘Uploaded’ (oh dear.) will “allow members of the public to post video clips on the Uploaded website via mobile phone or webcam, responding to a daily “debate of the day” set by ITV News.”
Yep, it’s the old ‘charitable gesture’ approach to citizen journalism. ITV choose the topic, choose the responses, and, by the sounds of things, even choose the correspondents (“a national network of citizen correspondents,” says the article, which also mentions 100 people who have “signed up”).
ITV news editor, Deborah Turness is quoted as saying: “news has remained a one-way street in a two-way world.” But the two-way system of ‘Uploaded’ has one very large lane for ITV, and one very narrow one for its audience.
“Sometimes the media is guilty of underestimating the audience,” she continues. “People do have really interesting and relevant things to say and Uploaded will give us real diversity of opinion and experience.”
“The Uploaded segment within the news bulletins is likely to be about 60 seconds.”
Ah, that diverse. Great. Another citizen journalism ghetto.
So here’s my suggestion: Stop recycling old formats for new media. Stop treating the audience’s contribution like an ‘And Finally’ section. Start understanding how interactivity works: it’s about giving control to the user. Giving control over subject matter. Giving control over time. Giving control over ranking. I’m not suggesting getting rid of editorial roles entirely, but if you’re going to do something like this, for God’s sake do it properly.
I’m inclined to agree with Jeff Jarvis, who said of the CNN-YouTube election debate experiment:
TV doesn’t know how to have a conversation. TV knows how to perform. The event’s moderator, CNN’s Anderson Cooper, behaved almost apologetically about the intrusion of these real people, who speak without benefit of make-up.
‘Uploaded’ is not citizen journalism. It’s a vox pops without having to pay professional camerapeople.