Reuters & the Red Cross: Advocacy Journalism

Reuters & the Red Cross: Advocacy Journalism
Jeff Jarvis’s Buzzmachine has an interesting piece this morning on the deal between Reuters and the Red Cross. In a nutshell, Reuters is going to distribute photos taken by Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers during relief operations. It’s an interesting deal. Reuters gets newsworthy photos. The Red Cross gets publicity, which helps their fundraising. It crosses the institutional journalism line, however, and, well, here’s how Jeff puts it:

Cue the journalism punditry: Here is a news organization (albeit a foundation arm) and a news brand saying they will use independent advocacy agencies as an “alternative newsgathering network.” Obviously, this outlet will be used for advocacy. So is advocacy journalism?
In this new age when everybody has a printing press (and, more powerfully, a camera), the new answer is probably, yes.
I’ll have no problem with this — I’ll applaud it — if I see Reuters allow in other agencies and other alternative sources, including individuals (all properly labeled by source). If this is used to push one agenda, that’s not journalism. If this is used to find new sources of news, new witnesses to what is happening from anywhere, anytime, then that is new journalism.
I’m in complete agreement with Jeff on this one, and I think the public will be well-served as more of these types of things come about. More voices, regardless of their points-of-view, are better for our democracy. Thanks, Jeff.

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