I’m speaking today at two seminars at UNC-Chapel Hill’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication: the Chuck Stone Program for Diversity in Education and Media and the Institute for Midcareer Copy Editors. For a white guy who can’t spell, this is an intimidating day.
Thinking about what to say to these groups, I began to think about how important it is for each journalist who lives in a world of accuracy and accountability to personally venture in to the uncertain waters of online social networks and user-generated content. Among other things, it is a journalist’s job to give voice to the voiceless and to hold powerful people accountable. Wikipedia and Facebook are two places where the voiceless are stretching their vocal chords and where accountability is taking on new methods. If a journalist is to perform his or her job above a minimum standard of competence, it’s important to dive in to these worlds and understand how they work.