Flickr sees dead people
These two pictures are of a dead man right outside the Helsinki Central Railway Station. Snapped with a cameraphone, and uploaded to Flickr with GPRS, the pictures spread with RSS and tags to people who sit comatosely with their aggregators and browsers, and feed on the information stream.
This is what street journalism is. Whether it is a good thing, or a bad thing, I cannot say. That is up to everyone to decide for themselves.
But you saw it first in the blogosphere.
Update: I blogged this in a bit of a hurry, so I didn't get to say everything that I wanted. You see, photo publishing has become as simple as clicking a button on a phone and sending it as MMS or email to Flickr (you can even ask it to directly post it to your blog, which makes you a moblogger. Or you could any of the dozen other services). This is not journalism as such (it's photo publishing, duh), but there is not a very big step to be made from publishing pictures on-site to publishing small stories, answering the who,why,what,when, etc. And that's borderlining on journalism already.
Now, because unlike big media, these people who publish directly from the street (or in this case, someone takes the photo and someone else writes a story about it - or in this case the emotions evoked by the photograph) have really nothing to lose. They can't lose readership, but yet they have the potential to reach far larger audiences than the traditional media (just snap a good one and have your server destroyed by Slashdot...); they might even make a few bucks if they happen to have ads on their web page. And there will always be some people who couldn't give a shit about journalistic integrity, simply because they don't see themselves as journalists in the traditional sense. They just publish scoops: the same kind of scoops they see on the pages of tabloids. It'll just be about the stuff that they are interested about (as opposed to the latest celebrity gossip).
The reason why blogs have potential also as a citizen journalism platform is their incredible heterogeneity: as publishing becomes cheaper and easier (did you know that you can now upload pics easily to Blogger?), people are able to match the presentation quality of traditional media sites with little effort, therefore moving the competition to content side. In the old days, it was quite a lot of effort to start publishing something like a magazine. Then came desktop publishing, but there was still the problem of getting your publication to the news stands (i.e. distribution). Blogs (and other tools, but blogs seem to be in focus right now) removes even that. The only real problem left is finding content, i.e. advertising. Maybe some tools are already on their way to solve that problem.
Personal publishing will always display both the "light" and "dark" sides of people. I find it very disturbing that people write about how they plan to kill themselves on the internet. I don't find pictures of dead people really that disturbing - I find dead people often less disturbing than live ones. But you can find both pros and cons for either case: and you can easily find an audience for both. And it's really hard to say that one should not write about something, just because it's "not decent" or it's "disrespectful". Sometimes it's news, sometimes it's voyeurism, sometimes it's just something you shrug off as irrelevant. It depends much on the context: the same picture, once you know the background, can cause uproar in the entire world - or it can get you shot and buried in silence.
With something like street journalism, the decision to publish will always be in the hands of a single person - not an editor, or a code of conduct. And with the variety of people out there, there will be things that get a lot of people balking.
There's always someone who ignores every ethical guideline. And it's up to each person to think for themselves, where they want to draw the line.
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|"Main_blogentry_240605_2" last changed on 26-Jun-2005 01:19:25 EEST by JanneJalkanen.