For the People, By the People

What comes to mind when you hear the term “citizen journalism?” Blogging? Newspaper or magazine articles?

According to a document by EDUCAUSE entitled “7 things you should know about…citizen journalism,” citizen journalism ” refers to a wide range of activities in which everyday people contribute information or commentary about news events. Citizen journalism encompasses content ranging from user-submitted reviews on a Web site about movies to wiki-based news. Some sites only run stories written by users, while many traditional news outlets now accept comments and even news stories from readers. The notion of citizen journalism implies a difference, however, between simply offering one’s musings on a topic and developing a balanced story that will be genuinely useful to readers.”

“We Media: How Audiences are Shaping the Future of News and Information” by Shayne Bowman and Chris Willis says that participatory journalism is “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. Participatory journalism is a bottom-up, emergent phenomenon in which there is little or no editorial oversight or formal journalistic workflow dictating the decisions of a staff. Instead, it is the result of many simultaneous, distributed conversations that either blossom or quickly atrophy in the Web’s social network.”

According to Writing for Digital Media by Brian Carroll, “journalists gather and share information, applying a discipline of verification in order to maximize truth, minimize harm and provide a fair and comprehensive account…by this definition, a great number of people, who would not necessarily self-identify as journalists are, in fact, doing journalism. Technology-driven changes, including the near-zero cost of publishing via the Internet, are democratizing the profession, expanding the nature of civic disclosure and putting the tools of the craft into the hands of everyday people.”

Image Credit: “citizen journalism” by rsambrook

An article by Steve Outing on Poynter‘s website spells out “The 11 Layers of Citizen Journalism”:

1. The first step: Opening up to public comment

2. Second step: The citizen add-on reporter

3. Now we’re getting serious: Open-source reporting

4. The citizen bloghouse

5. Newsroom citizen ‘transparency’ blogs

6. The stand-along citizen-journalism site: Edited version

7. The stand-along citizen-journalism site: Unedited version

8. Add a print edition

9. The hybrid: Pro + citizen journalism

10. Integrating citizen and pro journalism under one roof

11. Wiki journalism: Where the readers are editors

So, now that we’ve discussed what citizen journalism is, let’s look at some examples of it. MSNBC has a section of their website that is dedicated to participatory journalism. CNN offers iReport. Click here for a list of several other participatory journalism websites.

Do you consider yourself a citizen journalist? What have you reported on? What is your view of citizen journalism’s role in the future of the media?

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