I was fascinated by your article on citizen journalists, ‘Shot from Both Sides’ (Edit 5). Although these snapshots may mean professionals lose the ‘first bite of the cherry’, I believe they may help reengage the public with a news media which is seen as untrustworthy.
However, the practice raises legal and ethical issues. Professionals may sometimes break the rules, but at least they know what they are and are experienced enough to make judgments on the spot. Amateurs are not, and may be tempted to go further. If they are chance witness to historic events, they may intrude into moments of private grief.
The publication of pictures such as the suicide of London lawyer Katherine Ward (although taken by a passing professional) may encourage the worst kind of intrusion by unwitting amateurs. We are continually threatened with the possibility of privacy laws, through human rights legislation and judgments made in the House of Lords and European courts. If we encourage citizen journalism, we may ultimately pay a very high price.
Amy Binns, Journalism Lecturer, University of Huddersfield