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Lee Coppola is Dean of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at St. Bonaventure University. He, like many journalists, has ambivalent feeling about the merits of citizen journalism.

iMediaEthics’s study on the gift tax implications of citizen journalism was the topic of a recent conversation between WBFO reporter Mark Scott and Lee Coppola, Dean of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at St. Bonaventure University.

During the interview, Coppola expressed his opinion on citizen journalism– one shared, but not always expressed by many in the journalism community. “Overall I am against it, because too many people think they are journalists when they really are not,” he said. “All you see now is that if you see something happen, you can become a reporter for our news station or our paper, it questions the authenticity of what you are getting.”

His concerns highlight the changing role of journalism schools in preparing students for the professional world, the biggest challenge being determining what consititues journalism. How do schools prepare students for a completely undefined future? How do professional and citizen journalists co-exist, without causing more lay-offs and cutbacks in the industry?

Coppola isn’t completely opposed to citizen journalism, as he expressed more than once in the interview. “I think that stilling the voice of the citizen journalist is a terrible thing to happen and I think that the possibility that these tax laws might do that would really be a detriment to society,” he said.

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He also wondered aloud if his students at St. Bonaventure owe gift tax because they provide a weekly live webcast for Buffalo News, a profit-making company.  We called Coppola and are waiting for his comment.

Click here to listen in.

UPDATE 03/02/09: Dr. Coppola called us. iMediaEthics will be publishing a full interview with his response in the forthcoming weeks.

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