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What is citizen journalism

Page history last edited by Sara McDonnell 11 years, 9 months ago

 

 

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What is citizen journalism?

 

Citizen journalism is an emerging form of journalism that is radically different from traditional journalism in philosophy and practice. The emergence of citizen journalism correlates with developments in digital technology: rapid global growth and use of the Internet and more recently, widespread adoption of Web 2.0 applications. Since its first modern manifestations in 1999, citizen journalism has grown from a small network of independent media centers and user-generated discussion forums into a world-wide movement comprised of individuals and networked communities operating independently or in collaboration with mainstream media.

 


 

Definitions

As technology continues to evolve, so does citizen journalism. The term is used for a variety of different practices that share certain philosophical principles and characteristics. Among practitioners and researchers, there is debate over what terms best describe new forms of journalism. Professional journalists often object to the term citizen journalism because it implies that they (professional journalists) are not operating as citizens [1]. Current terms include grassroots journalism, networked journalism, open source journalism, citizen media, participatory journalism, hyperlocal journalism, bottom-up journalism, stand-alone journalism, distributed journalism [2]. The terms “networked journalism [3],” “citizen media,” and “participatory journalism [4]” are used by some people as umbrella terms that encompass the array of new practices.

 

Definitions of what citizen journalism is also continue to evolve as practices grow from small independent initiatives to encompass the mass, decentralized action of individuals, hundreds of independent citizen media initiatives and hybrid professional-amateur MSM processes.

 

Representative sampling of current definitions

  • “Journalism that is 'by the people,' i.e., created by individuals without professional training who frequently operate outside MSM [5].”
  • “Participatory Journalism. The act of a citizen, or group of citizens, playing an active role in the process of collecting, reporting, analyzing and disseminating news and information. The intent of this participation is to provide independent, reliable, accurate, wide-ranging and relevant information that a democracy requires [6].” 
  • “‘Networked journalism’ takes into account the collaborative nature of journalism now: professionals and amateurs working together to get the real story, linking to each other across brands and old boundaries to share facts, questions, answers, ideas, perspectives. It recognizes the complex relationships that will make news. And it focuses on the process more than the product [7].” 
  • Citizen media “… is the idea of a web that’s read-write … where we can publish almost as easily as we can read. Citizen media will live, and I believe thrive, in an ecosystem that includes lots and lots of styles and aims [8].”

     


 

Forms of citizen media

Citizen media includes a broad array of activities that citizens pursue individually or in collaboration with other citizen journalists and citizens media organizations or with professional journalists and media organizations. The seminal report, We Media, published by the The Media Center at the American Press Institute proposes two categories into which all forms of participatory journalism fall:

 

  • Social media: interpersonal communication that takes place through e-mail, chat, message boards, and forums
  • Collaborative media: hybrid forms of news, discussion and community [9]

 

Specific forms of participatory media include:

 

  • Discussion groups
  • User-generated content
  • Weblogs
  • Collaborative publishing: wikis, kuro5hin.
  • P2P communication: Instant Messaging (IM) and Short Message Service (SMS)
  • XML Syndication (RSS feeds)
  • Open vs. Closed forums [10]

 

General functions of participatory media

Commentary                     Open-source reporting and peer review

Filtering and editing            Audio/video broadcasting

Fact-checking                    Buying, selling and advertising

Grassroots reporting           Knowledge management [11]

Annotative reporting

 


 

Characteristics of citizen journalism

The forms of citizen and professional journalism are similar. The primary differences between the two are the processes by which news and information is created.

 

Participatory process

Digital technology and the interactive nature of the Internet allow average citizens to be active participants in the creation of news and information. Former audience members are now ‘prosumers’—not passive recipients—of news and information [12].

 

Ideally, the participatory process improves professional reporting. Advocates of citizen journalism believe that collectively, the audience is more knowledgeable than a single journalist [13]. Given access to a universe of information on the Internet, news consumers can now easily and competently analyze, compare and fact-check reports. As a result, citizen journalists promote greater accuracy and reporting among professionals [14]. Professional journalists and news organizations are now using digital technology to harness the knowledge of audiences by soliciting and using advice, new information including data, examples, evidence, story ideas and eyewitness accounts as well as analysis and editorial content [15].

 

Decentralized, bottom-up structure and process

The structure and workflow of citizen journalism is decentralized and typically occurs outside and independent of the traditional newsroom. Like the Internet itself, citizen journalism is self-organizing and structured from the bottom up. The means of creating and disseminating news and information is distributed across technologies, geography and the knowledge of many individuals. The majority of citizen journalism activities are not conducted for profit.

 

Diversity of viewpoints

Citizen journalism tends to produce a greater diversity of perspectives and expertise than MSM and gives readers access to more viewpoints and information to draw their own conclusions.

 

Emphasis on publishing vs. editing

Contrary to mainstream media, citizen journalism makes publishing news and information a priority rather than controlling content through the editorial process [16]. In practice however, most forms of citizen journalism entail degrees of editorial control [17].

 

Journalism is a conversation

Editing is the result of the two-way conversation that occurs between citizen journalists or between citizen and professional journalists. The conversational nature of citizen journalism reveals a more accurate account of how news and information is actually created [18].

 

Immediacy

Citizen journalists can be more mobile and responsive to breaking news than traditional journalists. Unhampered by traditional structures or editing processes, they can report in near real time [19].

 

New criteria for credibility and objectivity

Unlike conventionally trained journalists, citizen journalists do not strive to be “objective.” Citizen journalists frequently present news and public issues with an articulated point of view. They strive for fairness by fully explaining their point of view and offering diverse views, ideas, and perspectives [20]. Citizen journalism challenges the conventions governing the credibility of the MSM and notions of objectivity. It requires readers to develop their own criteria for judging authority and accuracy [21].

 

New roles for the professional journalist

The trend towards participation and collaboration in journalism are moving professionals out of the role of expert into that of moderator or facilitators of conversations with citizens. “One of the main concepts behind citizen journalism is that mainstream media reporters and producers are not the exclusive center of knowledge on a subject—the audience knows more collectively than the reporter alone [22].”

 

Limitations

The quality of citizen journalism varies, sometimes in relation to the degree of editorial control. It can be banal, poorly written, offensive, inaccurate, unverified or lack context. To address these issues, most citizen media have developed editorial systems to manage quality control [23].

 


 

More information on characteristics of citizen journalism

 

 


 

References: Definitions of Citizen Journalism

  1. Jarvis, Jeff. (2006, 5 July). Networked Journalism. Retrieved from

    http://www.buzzmachine.com/2006/07/05/networked-journalism/#comment-86195

  2. Glaser, Mark. (2006, 27 September). Your Guide to Citizen Journalism. MediaShift. Retrieved from http://www.pbs.org/mediashift/2006/09/digging_deeperyour_guide_to_ci.html
  3. Glaser, Mark. (2006, 31 January). Dan Gillmor finds his center. MediaShift. Retrieved from http://www.pbs.org/mediashift/2006/01/digging_deeperdan_gillmor_find.html
  4. Bowman, Shayne and Willis, Chris. (2003). WeMedia: How audiences are shaping the future of news and information, 9. Retrieved from www.hypergene.net/wemedia/
  5. Citizen journalism. (n.d.). Retrieved on March 8, 2008, from Wikipedia:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citizen_journalism

  6. Bowman, Shayne and Willis, Chris. WeMedia: How audiences are shaping the future of news and information, 9.
  7. Jarvis, Jeff. (2006, 5 July). Networked Journalism. BuzzMachine.com. Retrieved from http://www.buzzmachine.com/2006/07/05/networked-journalism/
  8. Gillmor, Dan. (2006, 31 January). Q&A About the Center. Retrieved from http://citmedia.org/blog/2006/01/31/qa-about-the-center/
  9. Bowman, Shayne and Willis, Chris. WeMedia: How audiences are shaping the future of news and information, 21.
  10. Bowman, Shayne and Willis, Chris. WeMedia: How audiences are shaping the future of news and information, 21–33.
  11. Bowman, Shayne and Willis, Chris. WeMedia: How audiences are shaping the future of news and information, 33–36.
  12. Bowman, Shayne and Willis, Chris. WeMedia: How audiences are shaping the future of news and information, 9.
  13. Rosen, Jay. (2004, 28 December). Top Ten Ideas of ’04: Open Source Journalism, Or “My Readers Know More Than I Do.” PressThink. Retrieved from http://journalism.nyu.edu/pubzone/weblogs/pressthink/2004/12/28/tptn04_opsc.html
  14. Wendland, Mike. (2003, Fall). Blogging Connects a Columnist to New Story Ideas. Nieman Reports, 95. Retrieved from www.nieman.harvard.edu/reports/03-3NRfall/94-95V57N3.pdf
  15. Glaser, Mark. (2006, 27 September). Your Guide to Citizen Journalism. MediaShift. Retrieved from http://www.pbs.org/mediashift/2006/09/digging_deeperyour_guide_to_ci.html
  16. Shirky, Clay. (2002, 9 September). Broadcast Institutions, Community Values. Retrieved from http://www.shirky.com/writings/broadcast_and_community.html
  17. Ibid., Shirky.
  18. Rosen, Jay. (2004, 29 December). Top Ten Ideas of ’04: News Turns from a Lecture to a Conversation. PressThink. Retrieved from http://journalism.nyu.edu/pubzone/weblogs/pressthink/2004/12/29/tp04_lctr.html
  19. Wendland, Mike. (2003, Fall). Blogging Connects a Columnist to New Story Ideas. Nieman Reports, 94. Retrieved from www.nieman.harvard.edu/reports/03-3NRfall/94-95V57N3.pdf
  20. McGill, Douglas. (2007). The LARGEMOUTH Citizen Journal Manual. Retrieved from

    http://www.mcgillreport.org/largemouth.htm#anchor1

  21. Bowman, Shayne and Willis, Chris. WeMedia: How audiences are shaping the future of news and information, 17–18.
  22. Glaser, Mark. (2006, 27 September). Your guide to citizen journalism. MediaShift. Retrieved from http://www.pbs.org/mediashift/2006/09/digging_deeperyour_guide_to_ci.html
  23. Bowman, Shayne and Willis, Chris. pg. 21.

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