Sunday, March 1, 2009

Why Julian Castro should refrain from the use of the term "citizen journalists" in their social media messaging

With the upcoming San Antonio mayoral election, I got an invitation from the Julian Castro campaign staff to meet him at a media/blogger summit next week.    

Yet, what made this simple email interesting and irritating was that his staffer, Jacob Middleton called me a "citizen journalist."

Mr. Middleton wrote me this recent email missive:  "This groundbreaking event is the first of its kind in San Antonio, and we would like you there.  As a citizen journalist, you will get a chance to participate in a question and answer session with Julian."

Right now, I am somewhat indifferent about Julian or Trish DeBerry as my next mayor.   DeBerry is a fellow public relations executive, but she has no experience in office.  Castro did a decent job as a city councilman, and I would probably vote for him him except for the fact that he substituted his twin brother, Joaquin, a state representative, for several of his last mayoral campaign events.

However, the use of the term "citizen journalist" by his staff clearly irks me.  Yes, I am a blogger, and I also am following Castro's tweets on Twitter.  However, that doesn't make me a citizen journalist.

In fact, that term really ticks me off because it makes people like Middleton believe that anyone can become a journalist without training.   As one who worked in the industry, a journalist is someone who abides by a set of ethics to remain neutral and try to get their facts straight.   So, calling me a citizen journalist will not make me want to come to this event or even vote for Castro.

So, Mr. Middleton, try this next time.  "Dear social media advocate...... We are going to have a tweetup with our candidate.  If you wish to come, it's at our campaign headquarters on this date."

That's a better way to reach me than terming me as a citizen journalist.  Anyone who has ever had some printed as a professional journalist knows the code of ethics that makes up the standards for the industry.  And, this is something that most citizen journalists don't understand especially when it comes to get their facts straight or using attribution or facts to make a point.

No comments: