Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right to the people peaceably to assemble; and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
|The original engrossed Bill of Rights|
Thus, the freedom of the press. Now, for nearly two centuries, the press was defined as credentialed members of the media who were knowledgeable in journalism law, practices and ethics. And, this system that public information officers and reporters worked under and established the ground rules of how we conduct ourselves.
|Credentialed members of the media covering the 1972 National Conventions|
If you now add the rise of cell phones sporting high-resolution cameras and internet connectivity, now you have just deputized millions of new eyes and ears out on the streets. Soon, news outlets came to understand and appreciate the immediate availability of this access to the sights and sounds of what was occurring as it unfolded. For instance, the first video images that came from Blacksburg during the Virginia Tech shootings in 2007 came from a cell phone.
The first images of the Miracle on the Hudson hit the airwaves from a ferry passenger's Twitter account.
|The first images of US Airways Flight 1549 from a Twitter account|
|CNN's iReport page with an invitation to become part of the news team|
|A tweet from a reporter seeking information|
And, we have to continue the discussion. After all, this is our new reality, and the rules are being written as we go.