The New Yorker has published another interesting article on the old media-new media debate. The last such article that I posted on looked at Wikipedia versus traditional encyclopedias and research; this article (published in the 7 August print edition) is on traditional versus Internet journalism (also known as “citizen” journalism).

Although the whole article is worth a read, Lemann’s parting thought is pretty interesting on its own:

Journalism is not in a period of maximal self-confidence right now, and the Internet’s cheerleaders are practically laboratory specimens of maximal self-confidence. They have got the rhetorical upper hand; traditional journalists answering their challenges often sound either clueless or cowed and apologetic. As of now, though, there is not much relation between claims for the possibilities inherent in journalist-free journalism and what the people engaged in that pursuit are actually producing. As journalism moves to the Internet, the main project ought to be moving reporters there, not stripping them away.

The article has, not surprisingly, produced a good deal of debate, some of it quite critical of author Nicholas Lemann’s position on citizen journalism. (Lemann is Dean of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.) One of the more balanced and informative posts is available on Berkman Center fellow (and former CNN journalist) Rebecca McKinnon’s blog, in which she surveys some other posts on the article, and does a great deal to put Lemann’s article in context. In his own blog, Jeff Jarvis addresses head-on the issue of how, exactly, to bring more reporters to citizen journalism.

Lemann’s article and the various posts make clear that citizen journalism is another example of crowdsourcing put to work. The dilemma remains of how best to make use of the public’s energy, while applying some of the discipline of traditional reporting. One possibility is the open source model proposed by, aims to bring professional and amateur journalists together in a collaborative format.