At first glance, this is technology news: Yahoo and the news service Reuters are going to recruit the general public as photojournalists — the public that is already armed with an array of image-producing devices, be they high-end digital cameras or simple cellphones. According to a New York Times story, the images produced by the public will be uploaded to Reuters.com and Yahoo News, then possibly distributed on the wire to commercial news outlets.
Technology news, yes. But it is also another stark reminder that the media are less us here in the newsroom talking to you, and more of you talking to each other. That shift carries responsibility with it. This is an issue for the liberal arts as much as anything.
As each of your students becomes more savvy at distributing news — whether on Reuters.com or on some blog — it seems that more of them should be familiar with the ethics of information distribution, the skills of detecting spin, and the mission of the media. Perhaps journalism courses should be as common on the roster of the average undergraduate as English classes. —Scott Carlson