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'We Media' Welcomed by BBC, Reuters
2006 global forum held in London
William Pollard (will789)     Print Article 
Published 2006-05-04 01:12 (KST)   
This week in London at the second global forum on 'We Media' the topic of "citizen journalism" has become mainstream for Reuters and the BBC.

Inaugurated in New York in 2005, We Media gathers about 300 international participants: senior executives, decision makers, storytellers, artists, investors and innovators from media, advertising and academia.

In a recent speech, BBC director-general Mark Thompson said, "We need a new relationship with our audiences - they won't simply be audiences anymore, but also participants and partners - we need to know them as individuals and communities, let them configure our services in ways that work for them. An early example is a competition launching tomorrow inviting our audience to reinvent our home page."

BBC News has made increasing use of photos and video sent in by members of the public. Outlook, a program on BBC World Service radio, has given away 25 digital cameras to listeners and intends to develop a photography Web site.

Meanwhile, newspapers such as the Guardian are largely ignoring photography online, but are starting to offer podcasts and claim this can compete with radio. Carolyn McCall from the Guardian will be part of the panel discussion on "Where is the money?" The potential of these forms of media is under intense scrutiny from financial interests.

Some of the strongest criticism of "citizen journalism" recently has come from Bertrand Pecquerie in a guest contribution for CBS - Public Eye.

"What worries me most is the process of self-destruction into which American journalism seems to be falling since the wave of grassroots or 'citizen journalism.' It is very difficult to understand how theories such as 'news is no longer a lecture but a conversation' and 'breaking news is the beginning, not the end of the news process' have imposed themselves on the media scene," Pecquerie said.

Pecquerie is director of the World Editors Forum, also a media partner for the We Media Forum. His concerns seem to be based on examples of journalists who have been targeted by blogs and other media.

"In 2005, Dan Rather resigned as anchor of the 'CBS Evening News' after an offensive from conservative bloggers. They were correct in exposing a controversial document as fake but did not serve the public by shelving questions about the questionable military service of the president," he said.

On the Guardian's "Comment is Free" Web site, Jeff Jarvis wrote about Meredith Veira who has recently been appointed to NBC's Today Show despite marching in an anti-war demonstration and saying that the war was built on lies.

Jarvis reports a conversation on Reliable Sources in which he said, "The truth is we all have opinions. The problem in big news is, we kind of lie by omission. Our agendas are all hidden. Dan Rather would have been better off if he said, 'You know what? I don't like George Bush, but now judge me on what I report.' Meredith Vieira should go ahead and say, 'Yes, I was against the war, but now judge the substance and the fairness and the interviews and the work I do.' It is time for to us get over this idea that we're objective and don't have opinions."
©2006 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter William Pollard

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