Are We Part of the Press?

by Emily Jasper on January 14, 2010

I had a dream last night. Stick with me on this one:

In my dream I was at the WWE Raw* event a few hours before things were to get started. We’re in a large room with lots of chairs, a podium, some microphones, and a lot of doors for people to come and go. Clearly, there’s a press conference starting at some point. The chairs were set up in sections, a few in the middle, some of the side, but no clear indication of who sat in what section. I sat in the back of one of the middle sections, with about 40 other empty chairs. Someone approaches the microphone and begins to announce each of the big name wrestlers, and the first to come out is the Undertaker. Since I’m at the back, he walks right down the aisle next to me, turns and growls, “That section is for the press!” Since it’s the Undertaker, I scramble up and sit in one of the side sections, all of a sudden seeing the press arrive just as the wrestlers get seated.

When I wake up I’m thinking,

“I’m a blogger, what if I was supposed to be in the press section?”

Not to make this a bit of a reach, but I think I was having a bit of a who’s-the-press quandary because of David Spinks’ post on CNN news coverage in Haiti. We’re finding more and more news sources are relying on social media for comments, pictures, and updates, but where’s the line?

When I was in St. Louis for the holidays, we watched the Weather Channel to see the progress on all the snow hitting Minneapolis. Additionally, they had all kinds of other videos sent in from viewers who were in other parts of the country getting clobbered. There were people sending in videos and pictures of sliding cars in Oklahoma, driving conditions in Texas, and slippery ice patches in Chicago.

The worst was the video taken by someone behind the wheel, driving with one hand, showing how awful the snow was and the amount of abandoned cars around them. At no point during these video posts was the Weather Channel putting in a disclaimer that people shouldn’t put their lives or the lives around them at risk just for catching weather moments on video.

Sure, that video could have come from a police officer or a plow truck driver, but in no way would I have considered it safe. And the Weather Channel is usually great about that kind of disclaimer, but it was lax during the holiday storm.

If news media is relying on getting the real news from our perspective, doesn’t that make everyone part of the media now?

Arguments around standards, policies, and ethics seem to keep the two pieces separate, but news coverage is expensive. In this economy, it’s understandable to want to broaden the net for catching the most up-to-date information. But as David says, are they relying on it too much now?

If CNN is crossing the still fine line of who is an investigative journalist and what we consider a credible source, then I want to cross the line myself and be considered part of the press. If you want to define me in terms of that world, I might be a features columnist or op/ed writer.

Do you think you should be considered part of the media? Why or why not?

*So in case you were wondering, WWE Raw was in Minneapolis on the 11th, so since I had walked by the HUGE buses and HUGE posters, I don’t doubt that the imagery got buried in my subconscious somewhere. Or it could have been that I was bummed I missed it, who knows?

Photo credit.