Frederic Filloux


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This article originally appeared in The Guardian.

  1. Looks like some of us cannot come to grip with the change in the air.

    Sorry, no matter how you feel about the integrity of published content, the value of content is now in the hands of readers and not in the hands of some editorial department who thinks they can determine what we should be reading or hearing as news.

  2. @Ed Dunn. Agree with you. This article is also completely missing the point of blogging evolving in publishing; the expression of different opinions; platforms now available to express those opinions; the power of social media in breaking news; etc.

  3. Adrian Short Monday, May 17, 2010

    As Clay Shirky says, we’re moving from a “filter then publish” model to a “publish then filter” one. It’s not so much about whether filtering occurs but where in the process it happens.

    The act of being paid doesn’t cause good quality journalism and increasingly it no longer correlates with it either. It’s about integrity and talent, neither of which are exclusive to professional newsrooms.

    Deal with that reality or be prepared to be very disappointed.

  4. Turi Munthe Monday, May 17, 2010

    I can deal with top journalists bemoaning their fate at the hands of the digital age (they tend not to, having seen how powerful it can be in their hands), and I can deal with real amateurs who claim that getting the idea out (however badly, inaccurately, inarticulately) is better than not.

    This article is amazing for being both pompous and amateurish at once.

    A single example of Filloux’ journalistic ‘professionalism’ and flair, he writes: “would you trust a citizen neurosurgeon to remove your kid’s neuroblastoma? No, you wouldn’t. You would not trust a citizen dentist either for your cavities.”

    1. The idea is wrong.

    Dentistry is a profession. Journalism is a craft or a trade (with a long tradition of amateurism too – George Orwell, anyone?). I debated against Simon Jenkins, Matthew Paris and a host of the big UK boys last month on this, and even they shied away from talking of themselves as professionals. http://www.intelligencesquared.com/iq2-video/2010/the-future-of-news?SQ_PAINT_LAYOUT_NAME=chapter&start=5522&end=6205&sgmt=51798

    2. and the idea isn’t even his!

    Just a few examples plucked from the web in no order:
    – “Citizen journalism makes about as much sense as citizen dentistry,” Leo Brody, founder of NowPublic.com
    – “No one would pay money at a dentist’s office to have a root canal done by a citizen dentist.” Thom Clarke – http://www.ourblook.com/Citizen-Journalism/Thom-Clark-on-Citizen-Journalism.html
    – “Morley Safer Trusts Citizen Journalism as much as Citizen Surgery”

    But googling ‘citizen journalism dentistry/surgery’, I realise that these days you only really find the cliche Filloux spits out above, in the comments sections (not in real articles, by real professionals).
    and – this one Filloux will love – here a Tweet:

    So, standards anyone?

    The future of journalism, news gathering and publishing, is of course collaborative. From Eye-witnesses to editors, ‘pros’ and ‘ams’ are already working together in the most extraordinary ways to build new and more exciting ways of understanding and reporting news. While the Telegraph threw all their staff (and a reported £90,000 to buy the documents) at the UK’s expenses scandal and trickled out the news day-by-day, you all know what the Guardian did – they gave the reporting job to 27,000-odd ‘citizen journalists’ http://mps-expenses.guardian.co.uk/
    Where do you think had the most long-term impact?

    The problem with journalism today is obviously not the amazing extra tools now available to it (including ‘citizen journalists’), it’s the broken business models of publishers and editors. Filloux, of all people, should know that.

  5. “First, would you trust a citizen neurosurgeon to remove your kid’s neuroblastoma? No, you wouldn’t. You would not trust a citizen dentist either for your cavities. Or even a people’s car repairman. Then, for information, why in hell would we accept practices we wouldn’t even contemplate for our health (OK, big issue), or for our washing machine?”

    To which i say

    “Would a court allow a witness to be someone who only heard about the event from a friend, or from a company who has a vested interest in the case? No they wouldn’t, first hand input from a non ‘professional’ or even a child is still going to be a lot better than 2nd or 3rd hand information from a ‘professional’.”

  6. Richard Gauthier Monday, May 17, 2010

    Sur l’ensemble des journalistes dans les salles de rédac, combien répondent à la définition du journaliste-filtre?

  7. milesgalliford Tuesday, May 18, 2010

    There are outstanding journalists, and very poor journalists. There are outstanding bloggers, and very poor bloggers. Outstanding citizen journalists and poor citizen journalists. The point about online media today is the reader gets to filter and choose what they want to read, and they are getting very good at this role. Quality blogs now have bigger audiences than many national newspapers, whilst poor blogs quickly wither on the vine.

    The truth is everyone has a point of view, including journalists and editors, and they select the facts to support what they believe. This article is a good case in point. Today the internet opens that point of view to scrutiny and offers many alternative views. That can only be healthy. On this website, Paidcontent, the comments are often more valuable and insightful than the articles themselves.

  8. “First, would you trust a citizen neurosurgeon to remove your kid’s neuroblastoma? No, you wouldn’t. You would not trust a citizen dentist either for your cavities. Or even a people’s car repairman. Then, for information, why in hell would we accept practices we wouldn’t even contemplate for our health (OK, big issue), or for our washing machine?”

    Information doesn’t always depend on a “professional”. Information wants to be free. Its freedom is often denied through the establishment that depends upon its obscurity and distortion for its own power. The establishment dictates the curriculum, what’s safe and what’s not, and the viewpoint one takes when reporting on a specific news item.

    No worries though. The establishment is working every angle to reign in the information freedom that exists on the Internet. It’s being locked down with “traffic shaping”, DNS manipulation, application stores which control what people can install on their own devices, channelized content through apps and widgets, pushing for “standards” that are burdened with numerous patent issues, and so forth. The list goes on and on.

    You’ll get what you want. It just won’t be what you expected.

  9. Frederic Filloux – Master buggy whip crafter.

  10. Initially I was surprised that all the comments left on here were negative about what seemed to be a very sensible, level-headed and well-reasoned article. Then it made sense. The writer’s allusion toward the carelessness of comments left under articles. The hint toward the fact (for it is fact) that the majority of online comments below articles are negative. We hate the media’s ‘build em up, then knock em down’ mentality, but then we – via the ‘peoples media’ of the internet – with a greater ire and bile that would put the UK’s ‘The Sun’ to shame.

    I applaud Frederic Filloux’s article. What he says seems obvious. Perhaps his only failing is in not hiding his exasperation that he is having to state the obvious, while many around him are clamouring to forget it. And here it is again, in shortened form:

    When a profession loses out to amateurs, it loses its quality, and all previous consumers/clients/customers of that profession lose out, and are left to the seek a confusing myriad of alternative services with no guarantee of quality.

    Yes, it’s taking it to far to liken the skill of a journalist to a doctor. But its merely exaggerating the point. Any professional is backed up, to a greater or lesser extent, by training, qualifications, pride in professional standards and ethics, teams, peer advice, management structures and – most importantly – pay.

    Adrian Short makes the point, “Deal with that reality or be prepared to be very disappointed.” I repeat it back to you. In a world where the citizen journalist rules, you will be scrabbling round to find the standards of journalism you previously took for granted. All that would happen would be slowly the citizen journalists would have to form together, and collectivize efforts to separate the bad from the good, the more experienced would pass on knowledge to the less experienced, and standards written up to be adhered to, and… essentially, recreate the newspaper industry that took hundreds of years to carefully build up, and could take mere years of short-sighted enthusiasm to destroy.

    Unpaid journalism can never reach the same standards as paid, because by the nature of being amateur it can only be fueled with those who have the time outside their normal work, or those who have the money to fund themselves. That is not an ideal world of democratic sharing of ideas and knowledge. That is the opposite.

    Just because a journalist has a job at a publication does not give him/her any more right to believe their views are more important than anyone elses. Publications recognise that very fact – in fact, that’s why, in essence, they exist. Remove the publications, remove the professionalism, and we are indeed all free to air our views, all free to read anyones, all free from the tyrany of ‘the media’ – but be very careful what you wish for. It might just come true. At which point, discerning fact from fiction amongst the noisy clamour of amateur writers, would be very hard indeed.

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