Most of the time, single posts on Twitter/X aren’t worth rebuking with an entire piece, but Washington Post media reporter Paul Farhi laid out an absolute banger this weekend when he lamented the idea of “citizen journalists” not being as professional, trained or equipped as he or his colleagues at major news outlets like the Post, New York Times or CNN. The idea that citizen journalists are not every bit as capable as journalists employed by these outlets (and others) is ridiculous and should be rebuffed.
Farhi posted, “Someone invented the phrase ‘citizen journalism’ a few years ago to describe amateurs doing the work of pros. Yes, it occasionally works, but probably no more often than ‘citizen cop,’ ‘citizen attorney’ or ‘citizen soldier.’”
There’s a lot to unpack here, starting with the idea of citizen versus professional journalist. When professional journalists at Newsweek sat on the Monica Lewinsky story, trying to figure out how to minimize the damage to their great white hope then-president Bill Clinton, a citizen journalist broke the story — perhaps the biggest of the decade. When professional journalists attempted to kill the John Edwards story, the National Enquirer ran with it and effectively ended any political ambitions Edwards may have had.
Citizen journalists are likely the reason Kyle Rittenhouse was cleared of a life prison sentence. It was the cameras from journalists at smaller outlets like the Daily Caller and Washington Examiner that caught the exchanges between Rittenhouse and rioters in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on video and showed Rittenhouse acted out of self-defense. It wasn’t CNN or NBC cameras.
Those are just a few examples, not to mention independent journalists who began to question the official Covid narrative coming from the Trump White House and Anthony Fauci. Citizen journalists broke open Planned Parenthood’s profit scheme.
Secondly, each example Farhi notes — a police officer, an attorney, a soldier — requires years of specialty training and licensing. Journalists require no such special qualifications like passing a bar exam, nor are they professionally penalized much for abusing their position, as police officers can be suspended, attorneys can be disbarred, and soldiers can be discharged for misconduct. It’s specifically because of this reason that anyone, any citizen with a smartphone and a video recorder can perform the job of a journalist, and many do so and are better at it than anyone at the Washington Post.
Lastly, Mr. Farhi seems unaware that the United States already employs a citizen military. It’s in our nation’s founding, and except during national service drafts in times of war, the United States military is wholly made up of volunteer citizens.
Earlier this year, Washington Post reporter Philip Bump embarrassed himself when he appeared on a podcast from a comedy club host. Perhaps Bump accepted the invite because he thought he would be getting the comic celebrity treatment. But Bump found himself flustered when confronted with text messages from Hunter Biden, which Bump has written off continuously from his column at the Post. Bump became so frustrated by text messages from the Biden family finance racket, that he asked to leave the podcast.
I would ask Paul Farhi who he thinks acted as an actual journalist in that situation? The professional paid guy for the Washington Post? Or the comedy club owner not interested in protecting Joe Biden and his family, the way they all did with Bill Clinton?
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