Saturday, September 24, 2005

In Defense of Citizen Journalism

In Defense of Citizen Journalism
By Sean Gallagher
September 23, 2005

Opinion: Citizen journalists keep us so-called professionals on our
toes and get subjects into play that might otherwise never see the
light of day. I have to admit, as a professional journalist who blogs
both professionally and personally, I'm getting really tired of
journalists who spend their column inches, air time or page
impressions bashing "citizen journalism" and weblogs. It reminds me of
the way my teenager tries to rest away the game controller from his
'tweener brother, yelling, "Give me that, you're not doing it right!"
I usually find myself somewhat aligned in opinion with my colleague,
David Coursey. But yesterday, Coursey railed about the excesses of
citizen journalism. "One of the tenets of 'real' journalism is that
you don't distribute information that hasn't been checked," he said.
"Citizen publishers are under no such obligation, so the information
that winds up in blogs and distributed on mailing lists must always be
considered suspect,
even if sent with the best of intentions." I feel compelled to
respond. To say that information from any source on the Internet is to
be treated skeptically is like saying that pit bulls might bite. It's
been pretty well established that anyone with a computer can, and
will, create a Web site, post to Usenet or a discussion board, or
otherwise pollute the Web and other streams of information with
hearsay and libel (that's why my first weblog
was subtitled, "Lowering the average quality of Web content daily").
Whatever happened to Webzines?,1895,1862507,00.asp Information is only as good as its source, and the people using that information have to make a decision for themselves about whether they trust it, and whether to seek corroboration elsewhere before acting on it. Coursey posits that the lack of any sort of editorial controlling entity in
citizen journalism is bad because it allows unconfirmed information to fly into our collective consciousness without any filters or fact-checks or assured means of correction. To support this assertion, he points to a post to David Farber's "Interesting People" (IP) mailing list, suggesting that there may have been censorship of an interview of Katrina survivors by NPR. The list, moderated by Farber
(a distinguished professor of Computer Science and Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University), also published responses by NPR, by the show that the interview was on (Ira Glass' "This American Life"), and readers of the list. As Blogging Grows,
Companies Eye Legal Pitfalls. Click here to read more. Coursey says
that the problem here was that an errant post was made in the first
place; that the responses and corrections made by others will never
carry the weight of the original post, and that the bad information
will spread further. Thing is, this is a problem with all media, be it
print, broadcast or Internet. There have been enough recent examples
of errant reporting in the absence of fact just out of the disaster in
New Orleans to demonstrate that bad news travels faster than good,
even if it isn't true. Where are all the corrections in the press
about the horror stories that proved not to be true?
But it's even worse than it appears. In the example cited by Coursey,
Farber's list did correct the story, and each correction got the same
weight as the original story itself. Contrast that to corrections in
the established media: they get buried at the bottom of an inside page
in small type, or added as a footnote at the end of a broadcast, and
are as a result largely ignored. It's very rare that something on the
scale of what happened
to Dan Rather and his producers over those faked letters about George
Bush's military record happens as the result of misinformed reporting.
Dave Winer, love him or hate him, has often contended that the blog
is, by its nature, self-editing. The feedback loop of the "two-way
web" means that when errors are found, they get called-and the
corrections often end up grabbing more Google PageRank than the
original mistakes. Trackbacks and comments, as much as they've been
abused by spam, help in that purpose. Yahoo Hires Blog Journalist to
Cover War Zones. Click here to read more. (Unfortunately, due to the
volume of spam in trackbacks and comments these days, I've been forced
to turn those features off on this blog for now. Feel
free to e-mail me.) And there are plusses to having that fire hose of
unfiltered content. Let's look at Hurricane Kartrina, where a
LiveJournal blog from a data center staffer in New Orleans provided a
running report, and live video, of the unfolding situation there-when
most of the established media infrastructure couldn't. Or look at
Iraq, where Salam Pax blogged a first-hand, Iraqi's-eye-view account
before, during and immediately after the U.S. invasion. Other bloggers
there, both Iraqi and American, have continued to tell stories you
won't find anywhere else. In each case, the Internet provided
something that traditional media couldn't-a direct, personal view of
events unfolding from people on the scene. And others are covering
topics that just don't get the attention they should because of the
simple bandwidth limitations of traditional media. For example, I've
found out more about local events in my hometown, Baltimore, from the
fleet of newsgathering mosquitoes in the Blogtimore community than
I've ever gotten from the Baltimore Sun. I get more mileage
from the aggregated opinions of Blogcritics than I do from the New
York Times Book Review. And in the tech space, let's face it: Without
someone like Pamela Jones covering the heck out of the legal battles
around open source, folks like my colleague Steven Vaughan-Nichols
would have a lot less to work with. It's not that I don't use those
established sources of media; they have their purpose. But there's
stuff on the fringes that just doesn't get picked up by them because,
well, they just don't have the reporters, the budget, the space or the
advertisers to justify them doing so. So, let a thousand flowers of
thought contend. Citizen journalists keep us so-called professionals
on our toes, and get subjects into play that might otherwise never see
the light of day. Just remember: Pit bulls sometimes bite. Sean
Gallagher is senior editor of Ziff Davis Internet's vertical
enterprise sites. Sean came to Ziff Davis Media from Fawcette
Technical Publications, where he was editorial director of the
company's enterprise software development titles. Prior to that, he
was managing editor of CMP's InformationWeek Labs. A former naval
officer, a one-time systems integrator and a graduate of the
University of Wisconsin, Gallagher lives and works in Baltimore. He
can be reached at [Source:,1895,1862903,00.asp Last accessed,
24 September, 2005.] [Paragraph spacing removed - tp.]

Friday, September 23, 2005

Newspapers down turn

'Black Tuesday' Continues: NYTCo. to Shed 500 Jobs, Philly Papers 100
In two separate announcements only hours apart, the New York Times
Company and the Philadelphia Newspapers Inc., confirmed what many
already know: the newspaper industry is facing tough times. PNI, which
owns the Inquirer and the Daily News, struck first, announcing it
would cut up to 75 jobs at the Inquirer and another 25 at the Daily
News, mainly through buyouts. The NYTCo. later said its cuts would
affect all of its properties.

[What does the down turn in newspapers mean to BLOGS and civic
journalism? What will these newspaper workers do now that they no
longer work for a big paper? Give this some thought. -tp]

The i’s have it: Community websites turns residents into journalists

The i’s have it: Community websites turns residents into journalists

Thursday, September 22, 2005

The Downside of 'Citizen Journalism'

The Downside of 'Citizen Journalism' The Downside of 'Citizen Journalism'
By David Coursey September 22, 2005 - Opinion: Lack of editorial oversight opens door for unfounded allegations that damage credibility, harm reputations and waste time. I am not a big fan of the "citizen journalism" being practiced on the Internet these days. One of the tenets of "real" journalism is that you don't distribute information that hasn't been checked. Citizen publishers are under no such obligation, so the information that winds up in blogs and distributed on mailing lists must always be considered suspect, even if sent with the best of intentions.
[NOTE: Citizen journalists are subject to the same obligations imposed by libel law as are "real" journalists. -tp.]

'U.S. News & World Report' to shift focus to the Web

'U.S. News & World Report' to shift focus to the Web

'U.S. News & World Report' announced a major strategic shift away from
print newsgathering to build its Web business. The move comes as major
newsweeklies -- like newspapers -- face the continuing struggle for
relevancy as a growing number of readers are comfortable with getting
their news online and elsewhere. "There's no point as a news magazine
to try to compete with that," says 'U.S. News' president Bill Holiber.
"Rather than to try and chase everything down every week, we're going
to be more selective." As part of the shift, the magazine is
consolidating its print and online sales and marketing staffs into
one, though it is unclear how many of the company's 300-plus staffers
will be affected. Holiber says that there are no current plans to
reduce frequency, and that the magazine added two additional issues
this year. He says the investment in online will cost "several
million" dollars initially.
Source: Dylan Stableford, Folio Magazine

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Sun.Star Cebu Citizen Journalists

Sun.Star Cebu Citizen Journalists

Civic journalism plus

Wednesday, September 21, 2005
Editorials: Civic journalism plus . .

Civic journalism is basically pro viding people with "news and
information they need in order for them to behave as citizens,
decision makers in a democratic society."

Civic journalism has to do mainly with content of the newspaper and
how it can make readers act as citizens aware of their rights and

Content of news and information must convince the reader his duty
carries as much weight as his right to help shape public policy and

Without brandishing the label and in a more modest scale, Sun.Star
Cebu has been practicing civic journalism.

The paper has focused on jobs and the economy, peace and order,
orderly transfer of power, public funds, public education, official
conduct, plight of women and children, environment issues especially
air and water, urban blight, and neglect of the countryside. These are
major concerns of the community.

Civic journalism, we are told, starts with learning what is the
community's agenda and continues by pursuing that agenda.

We believe Sun.Star is on that track.

Sun.Star stories and commentaries on vigilante or vigilante-style
killings stab at the core of the peace and order issue. Cebu City
cannot have peace when faceless and nameless executioners can murder
defenseless people and go unpunished.

Sun.Star special reports on trafficking of women and children and the
problem of water give situation reports and chart courses of action.

Sun.Star, with news and opinion, has warned against power grab and the
imperative of constitutional transition but also argues against public
officials accused of cheating and graft and getting away with it.

True, Sun.Star regards its readers as consumers to whom goods and
services are sold. Papers survive on advertising revenue and Sun.Star
is no exception.

Sun.Star, however, treats its audience as more than consumers. As the
civic journalism concept sees it, readers are "citizens with
responsibilities of self-government."

Even as we put more effort into becoming better civic journalists
ourselves, we hope citizen journalists will help us in the job.

..Citizen journalists

In trying to learn what the community agenda is, Sun.Star has turned
to views of focus groups, opinion surveys, and academic papers.

More extensively, we have scanned public opinion in subsections of
Sun.Star's Op-Ed pages (such as Talk Back, Speak Out, Text Forum,
Complaints Forum), in grievances and suggestions that land on our
Errors Desk, and in similar features in other media.

Through a network of journalists from Sun.Star Cebu and Sun.Star
Superbalita [Cebu], we have shortlisted what the public worries about.

Today, we launch the "Wanted: Citizen Journalists" project, in a
continuing effort to "reconnect with the real concerns that readers
have about the issues in their lives they care most about..."

On top of what we have been doing to cross whatever gap between the
paper and its readers, we have expanded our interaction structure in
the two papers and Sun.Star Cebu Online.

Citizen journalists can now report in text and photos and express
their opinions on community issues to print forums of the two papers
and to the web log "Citizen Journalist" (

What sees light on the website may go to print; what sees print may go
to the website, subject to editing rules and legal restraints and
rules of good taste.

Citizen journalists, we trust, can help us "ferret out issues of
interest to citizens who are not members of the elite." Those issues
can include their children's education, their security in and outside
their homes, and the economic future they face.

It will be a new and arduous task for journalists used to looking
largely at their own agenda. It will be new and even disconcerting to
a public used to sitting back and shunning citizenship duties.

Whatever the difficulties, whichever way the project goes, "Wanted:
Citizen Journalists" will be an exciting and challenging phase in
Sun.Star and community journalism.

(September 21, 2005 issue)

Sites for sore eyes

Sites for sore eyes: "As broadband use in the UK reaches five million households and beyond, multimedia content and web TV are set to become the norm. Mr Dunkley Gyimah gives dotJournalism the low-down on internet video content and highlights the trends to watch. "

Journalism for journalists

Journalism for journalists

OhmyNews International - KOREA

OhmyNews International

Magazines further experiment with print editions' digital format


Reading a magazine through the Web can be a frustrating experience.
The Web site doesn't follow the magazine's physical layout. Not every
story published in the print edition is on the Web, and digging out
earlier articles can be hit or miss. That is beginning to change, as
an increasing number of magazine publishers test "digital editions" --
electronic versions of their publications that replicate every page of
the print edition down to the table of contents and the ads. Available
for download on the Web or through email links, usually only to paying
subscribers, these new editions could change attitudes of both
consumers and advertisers about magazines. No longer will readers have
to wait for their physical copy to arrive in the mail: instead they
can download and print the digital version. For those who want to read
electronically, pages can be turned with the click of a mouse. The
editions give advertisers more options -- old-school magazine ads or
interactive pages that can include video or other moveable features.
For publishers, digital editions can save on printing and postal
costs. Source: Brian Steinberg, The Wall Street Journal

Monday, September 19, 2005

J-Lab: The Institute for Interactive Journalism

J-Lab: The Institute for Interactive Journalism: "J-Lab: The Institute for Interactive Journalism helps news organizations and citizens use new information ideas and innovative computer technologies to develop new ways for people to engage in critical public policy issues."

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Korean online newspaper enlists army of 'citizen reporters' / Multitudes log on daily to read and respond to stories

Korean online newspaper enlists army of 'citizen reporters' / Multitudes log on daily to read and respond to stories: "Seoul -- The staff at OhmyNews fills only two floors of a small office building in downtown Seoul, but it edits stories from thousands of 'citizen reporters' across South Korea.

The 150 or so stories posted on the site each day range from breaking news about huge protests to sophisticated political analysis, from hit pieces to tales of the daily ups and downs of people who feel ignored by established media."