Beware of that crazy Internet (and bad advice from professors)

“When I was in college, a professor said, ‘Beware of the Internet.’ Everyone and anyone is a ‘journalist’ or ‘writer’ because of it. Six years later, I owe the Internet a big hug, because before my memoir Rattled! there was Storked! on glamour.com. But I do consider myself a real writer, and my stories are genuine.”

That quote comes from well-known blogger Christine Coppa. She has been making a living off of her blog and now has a book out based on her blog. She’s very fortunate that she didn’t listen to her professor.

I can’t help but wonder how many aspiring journalists received sage advice like that only a few years ago. Imagine how much that has impacted the journalism industry? Worse still, many journalism professors still don’t get the power of the Internet and openly believe it will be (or has been) the downfall of journalism.

That’s a shame. So what if everyone is a journalist because of the Internet? As we are seeing right now in Iran, the revolution will be tweeted.

Bloggers like Andrew Sullivan are helping to make sense of it all. In fact, the mainstream media has been woefully inadequate when it comes to covering Iran and the recent election. Thank God for Twitter, blogging and social media.

When everyone becomes a journalist, we’ll be a more active, engaged and informed citizenry. When everyone is a journalist, corruption will find it tough to incubate; tyranny will have no place to hide.

There is still a place for professional journalists. Citizens can help report what they experience in their lives, but journalists can still put together the trend and analysis pieces. Professionals can also curate citizen content.

The Internet is a win-win for everyone. Well, accept the corrupt, the despotic, the tyrannically, the unethical.

It’s clear, however, that students should avoid the Internet at their own peril.