As a journalist, I cannot be entirely objective about citizen journalism- for starters, I don’t think citizen journalism should be allowed to be considered journalism as all. Although non-journalists have certainly contributed to the production of news, should they be called journalists? A more proper term, I think, for these passionate people, would be “news watchers” or something that has a slighter stronger nuance than “tipster.”
The reason I think these people should not be considered journalists is because journalists are supposed to adhere to facts, and while complete objectivity is hard to achieve, journalists have a moral obligation (or in many cases, news rooms have strict guidelines) to be fair.
Groundless rumors, however, generated on the Internet, are making their way into mainstream news without proper filtering. From malicious posts about celebrities to possible manipulations of the stock market (as seen in the latest rumor of Steve Jobs) people are out there writing all kinds of weird stuff. But publishing it on their blog is one thing- publishing it on a news site (or what some organizations claim is a news site) is different. Although I respect generativity and self-regulatory actions on the Web (such as those that can be seen on Wikipedia) news stories can’t wait that long to be confirmed. They should be confirmed before being published.
One reason for this is because now that operations such as stock trading are done by computers, a news story can affect one’s trading without even knowing or reading of the incorrect article. For instance, many people who trade stocks or foreign exchange usually preset a certain percentage so that the computer automatically sells or buys if the share price falls or rises by a certain percent. It’s not even the shareholder who is making a sales decision.
The Apple story in particular was a bit shocking because just two weeks ago in Prof. Lewis’ class, we looked at a case study from 2002 in which United Airlines’ stock was affected by a faulty news story. (this wasn’t the fault of a citizen journalist)