Sunday, January 13, 2008

BBC Balks at Idea of Citizen Journalists

I read this editorial post by the BBC's Peter Horrocks about the public response to the assasination of Benazir Bhutto. In this post, Horrocks includes the text of a speech he gave about the value of citizen journalism. His speech addressed how much attention should be given to the opinions of the citizens who care enough to post a response to a new story, quetioning if the audience's response is indicative of a public majority or just a minority opinion.

The background of the story is that the BBC opened a public forum just after Bhutto's assasination, but considered closing the forum because of what the BBC viewed as a vehement anti-Islam response. One reason given for suspending the public's access to the forum was that the BBC feared that the posts would represent the BBC's editorial line. He also said the real reason that the BBC was concerned with whether the comments had editorial value and how far they should alter the BBC's coverage, which he observed the answers to these two questions to be: "very little, and hardly at all.

What I found interesting - and what the Polis blog found - was that the BBC seemed to display a clear discomfort with the citizen journalists' contribution. In light of our reading, in which Schudson says that the problem with journalists and politicians being in the same microcosm is that they often determine what should be covered and ignore the publics interests/opinions, I wonder if this is an instance of just that - is the BBC reluctant to report on opinions of a highly political situation without the justification or legitimization of official sources? Do citizen journalists' opinions hold less value than political talking heads?

1 comment:

adrienne said...

This is really interesting, especially since the BBC has been celebrated for their innovate approaches to bringing their product online and for bringing readers in, for example, in projects like talking points.