Citizen Journalism and Phone Cameras

Way back in the late 80's the vast majority of news and VIP photos were taken by professional news photographers, usually employed by newspapers, news agencies alongside freelancers. This group of people worked day in day out often as a posse circling their subject until a photographic 'kill' had been achieved. However, that's where the colloquial 'cowboy' analogy ends this group of photographers were, in the main, highly professional lensmen (with very occasional and increasing in number lenswomen) who took photos to order and frequently processed, sometimes with the aid of an assistant, monochrome or colour film on site and transmitted selected images to their respective picture desk to meet deadline. Most were likely to be called Reg or Brian. Were honest, talented and highly professional photographers.

Those were the days? Not quite, heavy equipment bags including a 30lb wire machine, early deadlines and finding a telephone and electricity point were just some of the difficulties encountered on a daily basis. The competition was considerable but with a camaraderie that always gave an air of professional integrity.

Then came the 90's and VIP's gave way to 'celebrities' and royalty was pursued at pace by bounty hunting photographers or paparazzi, often pillion riding on motorbikes or stalking at a distance on very long lenses, maybe the equivalent of modern-day outlaws. At the same time, the trusty possee continued with their assignments, while this new breed of go-get photographer often roamed the planet chasing the 'golden fleece' of an exclusive image. At around this time mobile telephones also appeared in great numbers and enabled fast voice communication for information or briefing.

At the turn of the millennium we saw mobile phone technology move at such a rate we had ever improving cameras within ever decreasing in size phones. Celebrity photography had by now become so important to newspapers and magazines that specialist celebrity photo agencies had sprung up and hoardes of flying paparazzi had been whipped up into a frenzy with the high value placed on exclusive photo sets. Agencies often worked in conjunction with celebrities, mocking up 'exclusives' and inflating image values to the highest bidder. The self-policing posse of news photographers continued to work in a similar, professional way, but the ever-increasing paparazzi had aggressive opportunists attaching themselves to the highly competitive world of celebrity snapping. These novo paps had little training, little respect for their subjects but plenty of balls and above all the ability to take, edit and transmit images to their agency or clients within minutes of shots being taken. Great technology, not so great for their subjects! Immediacy had arrived.

Now we have sophisticated cameras within mobile phones. Their specification can almost match a pro's camera but they take up a fraction of the space. High end phone cameras also have one button capture and also provide very good video quality, certainly good enough for broadcast. People seem to have more leisure options and routinely travel internationally. The opportunities are clearly there.

That brings me back to the question of why Joe Public is only scratching the surface of his potential? Well on a few recent world news events many citizen journalists have provided us all with insight into events never seen before. Buildings collapsing, inside underground train carriages after a bomb had exploded or a car floating down a flooded river. But where are those millions of camerphone holding citizens everyday news related images? Do they need a nudge? I suspect that to unlock this mass of potential we need to provide information, promotion, organisation and reward. Information on what they hold in their hand and how to use it. Promotion to remind them of their potential and what a resource it can be. Organisation in leading them to agencies or outlets for their pictures and reward financially and who can resist seeing their name "up in lights"?.

Start a Journalism Career

A good number of people who are looking forward to a journalism career are getting discouraged easily as editors from different publications themselves say that this is one field which is hard to get into. Though there's some truth to that since an individual requires exceptional writing and people skills, this does not mean that those doors are locked to people that want to be a part of the field. If you wish to attempt breaking into the field of news media, the following are some of the tips that can help you start out the right way.

Get the credentials that you have to have:

Most individuals state it's a career in journalism you want, it's not really necessary to get a degree and study in a journalism school. Although this may be a fact for the mature writers and for a few lucky ones, that will not happen to ordinary writers. Therefore, if you truly want to make sure that you'll get a job in the field, it is better to be learned on the subject. Obtaining your degree as well as studying at a reputable school of journalism would assuredly provide you all of the credentials which you require.

Besides this, going to school would also provide you the chance to learn directly from the greatest people in the industry. You'll also get the opportunity to hone all of your abilities as you get involved with your campus paper that may print your articles. When you major in journalism, you'll be performing internships in different publications, which can bring you various options and possibilities. Who is to say? If your internship goes off without a hitch, the publication may offer to hire you immediately after finishing school.

Obtain work experience:

Quite often, a college paper is a huge training area for future journalists. But, since there are quite a few students and only a few spaces open for writers, it might not be possible for you to get this position. If you weren't able to make it in the school paper, it is better to gain experience from different publications like a community newspaper or even on websites.

Learn the ropes:

The sooner that you learn the ropes in this field, the easier it'll be for you to start a journalism career. Learning the ropes indicates that you should know all of the technicalities of the industries as well as those things that you and shouldn't do. If you're really are determined to pursue a career in this industry, you should know what publication to go for, the best place to start, what to do bring - like your certificates, sample articles and things to do during the first interview. It is additionally good to ask about the salary for starters so you would get some notion how much that you would request.

Shut Up and Believe This Article!

I know everything. I am an unlimited fountain of information, a veritable library of fact and fiction, knowledge and explanation. Hit me with a question and I'll come back atcha, answer in tow, checked, verified and set in stone. Throw me a curve ball, crack the cement and I'll come rolling back into view, side-winding a bit, but newly updated and ready to go.

Just gimme a little time - that's all I ask.

In reality, I'm a lot dumber than many of you may think. If you met me in person, there's very few subjects I could espouse on as clearly and with as much knowledge as I manage to achieve with the written word. On the tails of a comment in one of my latest posts (SoKP) I come to you with this, for the simple act of demonstrating the illusion this medium allows all of us.

Don't be insulted. I know most of you out there are already quite aware of this, but there are some - a select class of people I'm guessing who hold the same talent for clear, articulated verbosity in person as they demonstrate on this site - that might assume that what they find on the page reflects the reality of the person doing the writing. I am envious of these people. This belief clearly speaks of that talent, and I do not hold enough credentials to be eligible for membership in their club. I long ago stopped forcing full volumes of dry, fact-based information down my proverbial throat in the hopes that I could become one of the 'well-read' - those people who have the ability to pull out an undeniable and upper crust knowledge of most any topic and take the debate to a higher level whenever they see fit, eliminating, enthralling and sometimes angering the so-called 'common folk' they leave behind.

No, those people are a rare breed it seems, and their brains function in a manner I'm sure I'll never possess. So I took the easy way out - writing. I mean, that's what it's all about isn't it? Disambiguity. Giving the general public the idea that you know exactly what you're talking about, that you're an expert on whatever given subject you're covering and they have absolutely no reason to doubt you. From 1984 to Dr. Strangelove, it's the same idea; from the petroglyphs to the first town-criers to the invention of the printing press in 1439, we're simply here to give you what you want, help ease your minds and back your beliefs, even if it's us who created those beliefs in the first place. You don't need to know that we really don't know what we're talking about.

I'm doing it right now. I've never seen Dr. Strangelove and I've only read the Coles Notes version of 1984 in grade ten. The date of the invention of the printing press I just looked up online two minutes ago, and who knows how reliable that is. Then again, I could be lying through my teeth - maybe 1984's my favourite book, and I can quote Dr. Strangelove verbatim. That's not the point. The point is making it sound believable. Like any good actor, I'm seventeen feet tall on screen, or I don't exist at all. You may know my face but goddamit you forget when you're sitting in that seat, white-knuckled and dry-mouthed, waiting for the next line.

What To Look For In A Good Business News Journal

There are a multitude of business news websites and journals in America. Many of these use the same sources for their articles, even reposting the same information several times. This makes it harder to find relevant information amongst the reprints of the same story. For any reader interested in business news, quality and quantity matter. There are three main areas that any reader should look for in a business journal, helping to make it the best possible source for your life.

Information

Anyone looking for business news wants the most information available. They want details beyond just a press release or a conference call. They want the full story. They want the information to be the best on the market. If every company is using the same media outlet for their information, every website is only telling the same narrative.

A quality business journal will have it's own writers working on stories. They will follow up leads and track down stories. They will look beyond the information presented and find the real story. They work to provide the full story, be it positive or negative. They provide their reader with the most information and the overwhelming quality they deserve.

Quality

For any business journal, quality should be paramount. They should be able to put out stories that are of the highest quality and content for their readers. The information should be factual, timely and accurate. If a business news journal doesn't meet this criteria, then it cannot be considered the best.

Yes, reporters make errors, and information reported changes as new information comes to light. There is a difference between being accurate, and issuing revisions for past articles constantly. A quality journal will admit their mistakes, and make the appropriate changes to existing content. They will release new stories with new information when it becomes available. They will do what it takes to provide their readers consistent quality.

If a journal has several mistakes, poor layouts, or the same stories as other sites, then it fails to truly capture the quality of other information sources. Quality is important when it comes to the reader. There is a reason the biggest business news sites are so big and successful. They strive to provide quality and reliability in their reporting, day in and day out.

Reliability

For any media organization, reliability is extremely important to their business. They need to present their information in the similar manner that the reader has come to expect. They must publish stories at regular intervals, and use the same format for each story. Variations to this model happen, as the market shifts. However, if a company is all over the place, with different schedules, formats, and tones, it breaks the reliability pact.

Journalism And Literature

This was the question I was confronted with since I was 14 and thought I could do well if I took up writing as a profession. By the time it was time to choose between the two seemingly congruent fields, a new 3-year Bachelor's Degree program in Mass Media had newly been introduced in Indian universities, and I just joined the swarming crowds of future's trained advertisers and journalists.

The first class in journalism and I knew, "O God! This is not where I belong!" The opening lesson laid down clearly how unfit a 19-year-old, dreamy-eyed, book-loving fantasist was in the 'realities of the real world'. My story-writing skills had no consequence with the story-writing of a newspaper. In fact, with little room for creativity, there was no place at all for imagination. No wordplay, no symbolism, no flowery descriptions, not even a little harmless subjectivity.

The most disturbing distinction between a fictional article and a newspaper report, for me, was the fundamental style in which the two are normally presented. Those meaty pieces of information that I would have ordinarily kept for the last or sprinkled here and there to keep the suspense building and make my story interesting, HAD to be given out in the lead paragraph and leave the boring odds and ends for the rest of the article. They call it the inverted pyramid structure. To me, it was the murder of all appeal.

Of course, they have their reasons why newspapers settle on such an arid, uninspired style of writing. You know, you'd be worth zilch or almost zilch (for at least you don't have sloppy grammar, we could do with difficult vocabulary) if you were a gold-medalist Master of English Literature. But, if you can write 'crisp', bone-dry, unimaginative stories with 'working knowledge' of the language, then you are in some demand (but, only if you are not too money-minded. Patience teaches you penury is a great virtue.).

No, it wasn't a complete waste of three years, this degree course in Journalism. There is another offshoot of journalism where the rules of writing are slightly relaxed and one can choose almost any style. It is called 'feature writing'. These are 'newsworthy', human-interest stories with the freedom to express your point-of-view, but one needs to make sure there's little self-indulgence (the use of first person, 'I'). Or you could be a columnist where your topics could be specific or anything under the sun! But for you to be accepted as a columnist by a newspaper... you should have had spent donkey's years gaining credibility as a journalist or you have got to be a celebrity of some kind, so that your words have some 'news value'.