The Cyberbrains

Research and contemplation in new media

No more lines in the sand

I’m increasingly conflicted by the vague lClyde Bentleyines between propriety, professionalism and legality. The advent of citizen journalism has only made those lines fuzzier.

Today the Columbia Missourian published a story about “noodling,” a banned sport in which a person reaches into a muddy hole in a river bank, grabs a huge catfish and wrestles it to the shore. The authorities don’t like it because the fish are in those hole laying eggs. Besides, they too often have to drag someone out of the river who lost the wrestling match. Neither law nor danger has kept rural Missourians from grabbing lunkers for decades, though.
The story includes a sidebar on “how to noodle.” We tell the readers that it is illegal. And we tell them it is dangerous. And then we tell them how to do it.

At first I was paternally incensed. Then I remember a recent post I approved in MyMissourian, our citizen journalism site. In that, a young man gave a detailed description of his “draining” adventures – wandering around under the streets of Columbia via the storm drain system. City officials were furious about the post. But it was all perfectly legal, of course.

The gray matter in my gray head is throbbing. “Jackass ” regales us with lunacy. CSI New York this week focused on a young man’s effort to obtain “e-lebrity” status by flying off a skyscraper. Here in Columbia, civic-minded folks sprayed graffiti over the sidewalks – but just with the new chalk-in-a-can—to announce a gathering.

Now front page news, it once all was ethically out-of-bounds in a press run by journalists who declared themselves “professionals.” The law sometimes steps in, more often not. Propriety? That’s the only ting that changes faster than computer operating systems.

At least it assures an endless supply of fodder for researchers and bloggers.

May 4, 2007 - Posted by | Clyde Bentley

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