Coffee Shop Journalism

by Dan Ward

Peter Funt’s column in The Wall Street Journal should be a wake-up call to media companies about the pitfalls of coffee shop journalism.

Funt points out that encouraging oxymoronic “citizen journalists” by giving them equal space in newspapers and broadcast outlets is equivalent to a professional baseball team putting a “citizen shortstop” in the game.  Would that team still be competitive, and how long would fans continue to pay for the privilege of watching them play?

Even worse, Funt says that some papers are closing regional bureaus and sending professional reporters to “camp in coffee shops to get a sense of what the caffeine-conscious citizenry thinks is newsworthy.”

Instead of putting professionals in coffee shops and giving bylines to amateurs, perhaps the media should instead invest in professionals and give them all the coffee they need to stay alert to actual news … you know, the product customers pay for.

As Funt says, “news organizations can use all the citizens they can get – in the bleachers, not on the field of play.”

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