Current’s Shift Raises Questions About Citizen Journalism

By Andrew Gauthier 

The Wall Street Journal

Current TV began with a promise to be the great democratizer of media. Some four years into the experiment, it has a new chief executive who is shifting it away from short videos to more traditional cable programming.

In that transition, Current has cut shows and staff, with the most recent layoffs happening last week. The announcement has prompted questions about citizen journalism’s future, though Mark Rosenthal, Current’s CEO and a former president and operating chief at MTV Networks, said that it isnt in doubt.


“Current’s mission has not changed one iota,” he said in an interview. “Citizen journalism is far from dead.”

The moves are among Current’s first big changes from Mr. Rosenthal, who helped take MTV from videos to reality and entertainment programming in the ’90s. And while he said the network is still committed to viewer-created content, the format still faces plenty of skepticism as a business model.

“It’s been proved time and time again that user-generated-content is impossible to monetize,” said Andrew Keen, a frequent Web 2.0 critic and author of “Cult of the Amateur.” More…