Tuesday, October 26, 2010

James O'Keefe: The Downside of Citizen Journalism

The thing about citizen journalism is not that one has to be impartial or "objective" to provide valuable news service to one's fellow humans, but that one is part of a community the story concerns. Unfortunately, there are people who have taken the concept and bent it to their own ends. These tend to be political zealots without backgrounds in journalism who try to make "citizen journalism" a cover for what is really simply work by amateurs trying to score political points.

Keefe operates a website called "Project Veritas: Promoting Modern-Day Muckrakers." Thing is, he doesn't understand what a muckraker actually does (expose problems), instead using the appearance of muckraking to make things seem like problems. Apparently, the video of New Jersey teachers has not managed the impact O'Keefe would like. By now, most viewers are aware that he manipulates his videos to produce the impact he wants rather than using them to capture any sort of reality. This is akin to the difference, in film-making, between "montage" and "realism." In montage, the film-maker uses editing tools to create an impression; in "realism" the camera serves more as a window on actions that create the impression. A journalist, of course, is only supposed to work with realism. Montage always casts doubt on the creator's work--and O'Keefe only operates through montage. Anyway, O'Keefe scheduled a news conference to talk about his new video. But, according to Media Matters for America, he didn't even show up:



On Friday, O'Keefe announced on Twitter that he would be holding a press conference in Trenton today. 



But after posting two videos to his website this morning meant to disparage the New Jersey Education Association, he did not show up for the press event, held outside of the New Jersey state capitol.



Instead, a member of the local Tea Party was on hand to use the tape to call  for an investigation by the state attorney general's office into O'Keefe's allegations.



Daryl Brooks of the Greater Trenton Tea Party addressed a small group of about six supporters and reporters from News 12 New Jersey and The Record of Northern New Jersey.



He said that he believed the O'Keefe videos were valid because "he told me" they were.




Real citizen journalism doesn't work this way.  No one associated with the movement would ever say something is valid because someone else told them it was.  They would look into it, finding the truth.



Real citizen journalists (unlike the O'Keefe minions who went to this convention) strive for truth, not political points.



Most at ePluribus Media (where I also post) are progressives, sure.  But I have yet to see any citizen journalist posting here try to gross manipulations that are an O'Keefe standard.  We try for realism, leaving montage to those who create the fictions we enjoy in the movie theater.

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