Bill Thompson has posted a thoughtful article over at the BBC about the changes that social networking is making to our standards of social interaction. He discusses his own tweeting and live-blogging at conferences, and then talks about the news updates that were tweeted by Tearah Moore during the Fort Hood incident.
Obviously these are two examples that illustrate both the good and bad sides of citizen journalism. The good being closer interaction with the audience, potentially closer exposure to events as they are unfolding and the speed at which events are reported. The bad being that there is no controls over the quality of the information being reported – it may be true, it may not. Also, citizen journalists may unwittingly or deliberately trample over the rights of the people being reported on.
I think that reputation is the panacea for the problems described above. Journalists have a reputation to consider when they are reporting. This keeps them focused on reporting the facts and ethically constrained (obviously something has gone horribly wrong at Fox News). As online reputation becomes more of a consideration for Joe or Jill Plumber, hopefully it will mean they too will be more concerned with “getting it right”, as far as their tweets, blog posts, and Facebook updates go.