Forgive our cynicism, but yet another big media outlet is cashing in on this disturbing "citizen journalism" craze. The Oakland Press has annnounced the formation of The Oakland Press Institute for Citizen Journalism, and is inviting readers to attend free classes. There's not even any admission requirements.
We will be offering anyone who is interested — from high school students to retirees — instruction in news writing, videography, basics of reporting for news and sports, and still photography.
Here's their rationale... and see if you're as horrified as we are:
In our digital age, reports can be prepared and shared with the public in mere minutes. The original keystroke in typing the story suffices for print and online purposes. Photos and even videos can be e-mailed from the scene. Plus, phones can serve as cameras — even for video — and the airwaves and cyberspace are full of these endeavors produced by everyday citizens.
We are trying to tap into this movement as a means of improving our bread-and-butter franchise of local news and sports coverage. There are ways for readers to help tell stories better, quicker and more completely. This applies to high schools academics and sports, to local city councils and school boards, education, health care, business and financial, entertainment and human-interest stories.
For those who complete the instruction, we offer the opportunity to get your work published online or in the print edition. This experience would be especially helpful for high school and college students viewing careers in the communications field. In addition, others can work toward becoming members of our freelance stable of journalists.
Wait a minute, did they say career? We remember when the concept of career implied salaries and job stability... and professional standards. Not just something you do as a lark. We think they must have meant hobby.