Beers, David. "The Public Sphere and Online, Independent Journalism." Canadian Journal of Education/ Revue canadienne de l'education. 29 (1): 109-130
Beers, the founder of The Tyee, a civic journalism website discusses civic journalism as a tool in education that will fulfill Habermas's ideal of the public sphere, a place where public debate can take place. Beers asserts that media should act as a transparent informant where debate is fostered, rather than a tool of manipulation of those who take part in the public sphere. Beers discusses cross ownership in the Canadian markets and says that homogenized content is not only the result of fewer voices creating more content but also a result of advertisers manipulation of the market to suit their wants and needs. Having a subjective perspective on a story is not problematic, as most media outlets have an agenda, citizen journalism included. The problem is when there is only one agenda being pushed. Beers identifies two types of alternative news, those who exist in context of media conglomerates, whose purpose is to counter the corporate media consensus. And then there are those alternative media sites who exist to serve a niche and/or marginalized market. Beers goes on to outline three types of alternative news media: 1) E-zine news media; 2) the blogosphere; 3) open publishing sites. He also goes onto to explain the challenges that these alternative media forums face such as establishing creditiblity, an audience and gathering resources.
Beers paper is relevant in my discussion of citizen journalism in how he separates the different types of sites. The structure of a blog can have different consequences and render a different audience than an opening publishing site. It can also complicate the ethical arguments surrounding citizen journalism: what are the responsibilities of a citizen journalist if any and who is responsible in the case of misinformation? Many of Beers claims of cross ownership and homogenized content in Canada reflect the circumstances of the United States of America presented in Klinenberg's book, Fighting for Air: The Battle to Control America's Media. The similarities are striking and help show the gravity of the situation as well at he internationality of it.
Bercovici, Jeff. "'Citizen Journalists' Don't Get a Pass on Ethics." Conde Nast Portfolio June 2008 .
This brief article serves as a introduction to the controversy surrounding citizen journalist Mayhill Fowler. Fowler recently received media attention because of her coverage of Barack Obama; she audio recorded Obama's comment about "bitter" small town voters. Obama was not made aware by Fowler that this recording would be published. Bercovici charges Fowler's recording and publishing of Obama's comment as unethical, hence the title of the article. Bercovici also bring in, very briefly, the opposing commentary, made by NYU Journalism Professor, Jay Rosen; "Fowler didn't have much time to identify herself as a journalist (in the latter instance) and, moreover, because she's not a journalist in that sense that she's only one of very many unpaid contributors to Off The Bus. "I'm not sure we can tell all 1,700 contributors, 'You're all reporters for the Huffington Post... That's not really true.'"
This case highlights, perhaps the largest, controversial issue of blogging. According to Bercovici, Fowler acted unethically by failing to inform Obama that his comment would be recorded and potentially published. but the larger issue being discussed is whether or not news bloggers should and can be held to the same standard as professional/traditional journalists. Had Fowler been a professional journalist, any question of ehtics would have been easily decided - she would be charged with acting unethically but because Fowler does not hold the official title of journalist, can we still hold her to the same professional standards.
Holding citizen journalists to a professional standard implicates more than issues of ethical practice but also issues of content. That is to say, is it fair to expect the highest quality (professional even) news reporting from citizen journlists but not hold them to the same ethical standard that we hold professionals to. Can we consider a citizen journalist a professional in some regards and not in others? I would propose that the answer to this question is no, but that is not to say that Fowler acted unethically. The role of the citizen journalist is very unique to the modern world, with the internet and technological advances, the internet has not only created a new space that must be governed rather precariously but it has also given rise to a new populous of peole who occupy that space. The citizen journlaist is one of the new characters that occupies that space and consequently the guidelines that dictate their roles in this new space are different from those of a traditional journalists. Bercovici's last line, "Being a "citizen journalist" doesn't mean you get to pose as a citizen and then publish as a journalist." effectively rams this controversial point home because the very title "citizen journalist" indicates that one can do exactly that, straddle their citizen and journalist roles but which aspects of each should citizen journalists exercise.