Mashable alerted me to the story. With a couple of pics and a video, it’s easy to believe that the cop overreacted and should lose his job:
Now, I’m certainly not bashing Mashable here–they took the social media angle that appealed to their readers–but let’s look at the “citizen journalism” side of this. Viewing the photographs and cell phone video, you might confidently predict that there’s not much the police officer can say to defend his actions.
He pulled a gun on a bunch of kids having a snowball fight!
But, if you take the time to read the Washington Post’s lengthy account of the incident, and you learn that this was, at worse, a misunderstanding and, at best, the correct reaction for a cop being pummeled with snowballs.
Personally, I still believe the cop overreacted–and should face some kind of discipline–but that’s part of my point. I’m a citizen journalist–aka blogger–and I make my living by imparting my subjective views on you, our readers. The Washington Post however, while not able to shake completely the latent bias of its journalists, does a much better job of presenting the facts–and leaving the reader to form their own opinion.
In Radically Transparent, we talk about “professional detractors”–those that are paid to report on your misfortune, yet without any apparent modus operandi–such as journalists. While we may not like what they write about us, we know that we can somewhat trust their structured gathering of information and procedures for correcting any erroneous reporting.
As citizen journalism continues to take the place of professional journalism, I wonder how this will affect reputation management. Are we ready for a world of biased reporting?
I’d love to hear your thoughts!