The tech giant Google is currently testing an application to make it easier for citizen journalists to talk about local topics. The initiative is welcomed by the Quebec Federation of Professional Journalists (FPJQ), which however warns against potential drift.
The Bulletin application, tested since Wednesday in Nashville and Oakland, USA, seeks to reduce barriers between local news and the general public by providing a simple and fast platform to use.
In this way, a citizen witnessing an event could write a short article and post a photo or video in minutes, and his/her article would be instantly hosted on Google’s servers. Anyone could then find this article using the company’s search engine, without having to install Bulletin on their device.
In a presentation of the application, the tech giant Google explains having worked with local media to design this prototype and determine good practices. The company also hopes that news published through the Bulletin will be relayed by local media to give them more visibility.
The President of the FPJQ, Stephane Giroux stated that this new platform could be useful for local journalists, but points out that such an application can not replace the work of professionals.
“Journalists become accountable for what they write,” says Giroux. If we end up with a platform on which anyone can write what he/she wants, who will be responsible for ensuring truthfulness and professionalism?”
Improve citizens’ confidence
Stephane Giroux believes that Bulletin and other initiatives of this kind could help improve citizens’ trust in the mainstream media, which some people sometimes deny to ignore some news of interest to them.
He is concerned, however, that malicious people are using it to worsen the problem.
“It’s so easy now to use platforms like that to convey false news, sometimes innocently, sometimes sneakily,” says Giroux. So, the tech giant Google should add mechanisms to ensure the veracity of reported information.”
This veteran journalist is suspicious about the tech giant Google’s insistence that it wants to reduce the effort needed to publish a news story. He explains that one would not accept to lower the requirements of the work of a doctor so that he can see more patients and that should be the same for the work of a journalist.
“The FPJQ fully agrees with citizen journalism, as long as everything is done in the rules of art, says Stephane Giroux. We defend the freedom of the press and, by extension, the freedom of every citizen to report what he/she reads and what he/she sees. Except we put the bar high enough for the verification of the facts.”
So, what do think about this initiative taken by the tech giant Google? Share your thoughts and opinion about this initiative in the comment section below.