The Journalism Divide: Professional Vs. Amateur

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Centuries ago news travelled by word of mouth and its meaning depended on who was informing and who was listening. Today news is everywhere and it can come in numerous different forms; websites, newspapers, television. However writing or reading with an unbiased perspective is hard and often impossible as our pre conceived notions of topics or events will always influence how we process certain information.

David Domingo, Thorsten Quandt, Ari Heinonen, Steve Paulussen, Jane B. Singer, and Marina Vujnovic discuss the concepts of professional and participatory journalism and how the divide is becoming blurred. In their article they state that contemporary critics have suggested that “news should be a conversation rather than a lecture”. This comment is interesting as it makes reference to how news originated before the media existed.

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Allowing audience participation in journalism, such as having comments on a news report allows several points of views to be expressed and could be said to give a report some balance. However it can also affect the professional industry and lead to further confusion over what is facts and what is simply opinion.

The U.S state department produced a podcast titled ‘Social Media and Citizen Journalists’, where it discussed the topic of professional versus amateur journalism. They comment that traditional journalists view citizen journalists as “self-interested, unskilled amateurs” and these so called amateurs view the professionals as “arrogant”. Focusing on the ‘blogosphere’ they bring to light a key issue that separates both fields of journalism which is perception and a distrust of the other.

By taking a look at both viewpoints it becomes clear that each argument has valid points. Participatory journalism brings back the concept of news as conversation but professional journalism is needed for accuracy and structure.

What viewpoint do you guys take?

♦Domingo, D, Quandt, T, Heinonen, A, Paulussen, S, J, B, Singer & Vujnovic, M, 2008, ‘Participatory Journalism Practices In The Media And Beyond,’ Journalism Practice, 2:3, 326-342.

♦U.S State Department, 2011, ‘Social Media and Citizen Journalists’, IIP Digital, last accessed 26/05/2014,