There has been a lot of talk as of late about Joe Rogan’s podcast interview of Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, as well as related videos and online mudslinging. I finally watched the entire interview, as well as some followup segments, and several things come to mind. First, in this day and age, almost anyone can be and at times is a journalist. Even though Joe Rogan is a comedian, MMA commentator and podcaster, he is in a position where he interviews prominent people about current events and sometimes breaks news, so he is taking on the role of a journalist and many people look to him as a source of not-so-filtered information. With that said, he is not required to adhere to some code of ethics. Still, a major mediaethics issue did arise in that Jack Dorsey is the CEO of a company that has a financial relationship with Rogan’s podcast. Rogan discussed the issue during the interview with Dorsey, but not in an upfront, transparent manner. He later discussed it in detail in a subsequent interview. Regarding the allegations that Rogan conducted a softball interview and did not press Dorsey on matters he should have (i.e. social media censorship and Dorsey claiming he did not know why Alex Jones was banned from Twitter — which is very questionable), I view this as indicative of the direction journalism is going — process journalism. Rather than waiting to publish a story or record content until all claims have been scrutinized and facts have been checked, more and more journalists publish or record before verifying.
It’s hard for me to fault Rogan for doing this since I have come to see value in process journalism and engage in the practice myself. For instance, during the peak of Europe’s migrant crisis, I “platformed” many people making questionable claims. I interviewed on camera many asylum seekers who may have been exaggerating or even fabricating stories in attempt to gain legal status in Europe. Likewise, on the opposing side of the issue, I interviewed Bulgaria’s famed refugee hunter, Dinko Valev, who also made some questionable claims. As Joe Rogan has now done with the social media issue, I followed up with more critical reporting on the migrant crisis. Still, I think it was important at the time to give a voice (and a face) to some of the many asylum seekers who were pouring into Europe and about whom there was much confusion in the western world.
Also, a major component of process journalism is audience participation. The audience on YouTube responded very critically to many of the claims asylum seekers were making in my interviews with them. This highlighted a need for some scrutiny and alternative viewpoints. Rogan’s audience steered him in the direction of social media censorship, and he responded by conducting an in-depth interview on the topic and by booking Dorsey for a followup interview. We’ll see if the Dorsey followup materializes. Nonetheless, the initial interview prompted a major discussion on social media censorship. It also included very interesting conversation — a bit surprising I might add — in which Dorsey suggested the world is trending toward decentralization, due in large part to blockchain tech and cryptocurrency. The times are changing, and journalism is as well.