Actor Kevin Williams was on David Letterman recently talking about New York snow storms and appeals from news outlets for amateur video.
"They go so crazy on the news," he tells Letterman. "It's not just the weather people, it's the reporters. They were actually saying 'if you're out and about and you see news happening, video record it and send it to us, please.'
"And I'm thinking, isn't that your job, really? How lazy can you get?"
Well, Kevin, pretty lazy these days.
Newspapers and radio and television stations are heavily into soliciting citizen-produced news, video and sound bites and, in most cases, without compensation.
Meanwhile, Sun Media's Kincardine News has taken appeals for news and video from citizens to new heights, or new lows depending on how you feel about lazy journalism.
In a nutshell, the Kincardine News says ignore its weekly print edition, help it produce the news and video for daily online viewing.
The story reads:
"The nature of the newspaper business is changing drastically to keep up with the progression of free, Internet new content, but the Kincardine News isn't too far behind as part of Sun Media.
"Our focus in the coming month will swing away from a workweek focused on the print product, with an emphasis on posting more news regularly on www.kincardinenews.com and increased sharing with our local daily Owen Sound Sun Times.
"This way, our readers will have the opportunity to keep up with news as it develops throughout the week, rather than relying on radio briefs or next week's paper for the Troy Patterson day's news.
"We're also shifting so there is a greater focus on Reader Generated Content, whether it be sports reports, briefs from organizations, a series of photos from an event or anything our readers deem newsworthy.
"With the increased frequency of digital cameras, camera phones and the ease of text and e-mails, a lot of people can share the news, so it's recorded by us and isn't lost in the digital universe of a cluttered hard drive or memory stick. It also helps us, as we can't make every event, although we'd like to.
"We do ask that people take the time to make it readable, the rest we can do here."
That is lazy, manipulative journalism.
Mark our words, the use of citizen stories, photographs and video will come back to bite understaffed, overworked newsrooms in the ass.