The rise of the citizen journalist is not a new phenomenon. People have been witnessing and taking pictures of notable events for a long, long time. And they've been selling them to traditional news organizations just as long.Sounds pretty reasonable in many cases, but here's my question for someone far more technically savvy about these things than myself: Will HDTV help save some jobs? When High Definition television finally really kicks in (whenever that's supposed to be nowadays), will the balance shift back to quality over immediacy to some degree? Gillmore is talking about breaking news events but the trend threatens to be much bigger. Sure, anyone can buy a HD camera, but they're not exactly in the price range of a camera phone or other digital video systems. Will today's consumer tools look like yesterday's 35mm cameras or have we reached a point where acceptable technology is available to all?
But professional photojournalists, and more recently videographers, have continued to make good livings at a craft that helps inform the rest of us about the world we live in. That craft has never been more vibrant, or vital. But the ability to make a living at it will crumble soon.
The pros who deal in breaking news have a problem. They can't possibly compete in the media-sphere of the future. We're entering a world of ubiquitous media creation and access. When the tools of creation and access are so profoundly democratized, and when updated business models connect the best creators with potential customers, many if not most of the pros will fight a losing battle to save their careers.
Bear with my citizen-journalism obsession here for a moment but I found Dan Gillmore's recent take the issue very interesting. His basic premise: Professional photojournalists are losing their reason for being. Now that everyone carries a camera of some sort – and now that news organizations are becoming more aggressive in soliciting material from everywhere – there will soon be fewer reasons to rely on a collection of professional stringers for material. From Gillmore:
(AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
© 2006 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.