Sunday, August 21, 2005



Citizen journalism, also known as "participatory journalism," is the act of citizens "playing an active role in the process of collecting, reporting, analyzing and disseminating news and information," according to the seminal report We Media: How Audiences are Shaping the Future of News and Information, by Shayne Bowman and Chris Willis. They say, "The intent of this participation is to provide independent, reliable, accurate, wide-ranging and relevant information that a democracy requires." [1]

"Public journalism" can refer to this journalism work by ordinary people, or it can mean certain work or aspects of work by professional journalists. The latter meaning is also often called "civic journalism".

Citizen journalism usually involves empowering ordinary citizens -- including traditionally marginalized members of society -- to engage in activities that were previously the domain of professional reporters. "Doing citizen journalism right means crafting a crew of correspondents who are typically excluded from or misrepresented by local television news: low-income women, minorities and youth -- the very demographic and lifestyle groups who have little access to the media and that advertisers don't want," says Robert Huesca, an associate professor of communication at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas.

Citizen journalists may be activists within the communities they write about. This has drawn some criticism from traditional media institutions such as The New York Times, which have accused proponents of public journalism of abandoning the traditional goal of objectivity.

Civic journalism refocuses the mission of the news media. According to Edward M. Fouhy of the Pew Center for Civic Journalism, "It is an effort to reconnect with the real concerns that viewers and readers have about the things in their lives they care most about -- not in a way that panders to them, but in a way that treats them as citizens with the responsibilities of self-government, rather than as consumers to whom goods and services are sold. It takes the traditional five w's of journalism -- who, what, when, where, why -- and expands them -- to ask why is this story important to me and to the community in which I live?" [2]

The public journalism movement emerged after the 1988 U.S. presidential election as a countermeasure against eroding trust in the news media and widespread public disillusionment with politics and civic affairs. Jay Rosen, a journalism professor at New York University, was one of its earliest proponents. From 1993 to 1997, he directed the Project on Public Life and the Press, funded by the Knight Foundation and housed at NYU. More recently, he runs the PressThink weblog. Former Wichita Eagle editor Davis "Buzz" Merritt steered his newspaper in a public journalism direction and wrote "Public Journalism and Public Life," published in 1995. Academics and others who have written about the topic include Ted Glasser [3], Philip Meyer & his students, Arthur Charity, Lewis Friedland, Jeff Dvorkin [4], Leonard Witt [5], Herbert Gans, and Jan Schaffer [6][7].

Initially, discussions of public journalism focused on promoting journalism that was "for the people" by changing the way professional reporters did their work. In 1998, a study done for the Pew Center and the Associated Press Managing Editors found that "Forty-five percent of all editors surveyed say that their newsrooms use the tools and techniques of civic journalism. Sixty-six percent say they either embrace the label or like the philosophy and tools, suggesting that there are even more practitioners." [8] According to Leonard Witt, however, early public journalism efforts were "often part of 'special projects' that were expensive, time-consuming and episodic. Too often these projects dealt with an issue and moved on. Journalists were driving the discussion. They would say, 'Let's do a story on welfare-to-work (or the environment, or traffic problems, or the economy)," and then they would recruit a cross-section of citizens and chronicle their points of view. Since not all reporters and editors bought into public journalism, and some outright opposed it, reaching out to the people from the newsroom was never an easy task." By 2003, in fact, the movement seemed to be petering out, with the Pew Center for Civic Journalism closing its doors.

Simultaneously, however, journalism that was "by the people" began to flourish, enabled in part by emerging internet and networking technologies, such as weblogs, chat rooms, message boards, wikis and mobile computing. In South Korea, Ohmynews became popular and commercially successful with the motto, "Every Citizen is a Reporter." Founded by Oh Yeon-ho on February 22, 2000, it has a staff of some 40-plus traditional reporters and editors who write about 20% of its content, with the rest coming from other freelance contributors who are mostly ordinary citizens. OhmyNews has been credited with transforming South Korea's conservative political environment. During the 2004 U.S. presidential election, both the Democratic and Republican parties issued press credentials to citizen bloggers covering the convention, marking a new level of influence and credibility for nontraditional journalists. Some bloggers also began watchdogging the work of conventional journalists, monitoring their work for biases and inaccuracy.

A recent trend in citizen journalism has been the emergence of what blogger Jeff Jarvis terms hyperlocal journalism, as online news sites invite contributions from local residents of their subscription areas, who often report on topics that conventional newspapers tend to ignore. "We are the traditional journalism model turned upside down," explains Mary Lou Fulton, the publisher of the Northwest Voice in Bakersfield, California. "Instead of being the gatekeeper, telling people that what's important to them 'isn't news,' we're just opening up the gates and letting people come on in. We are a better community newspaper for having thousands of readers who serve as the eyes and ears for the Voice, rather than having everything filtered through the views of a small group of reporters and editors." [9] Other examples of hyperlocalism include GetLocalNews.com, iBrattleboro.com founded in February, 2003 in Brattleboro, Vermont; WestportNow.com, in Westport, Connecticut; GoSkokie, in Skokie, Illinois; and MyMissourian, in mid-Missouri.

J-Lab: The Institute for Interactive Journalism
Citizens media grants from J-Lab
English-language edition of OhMyNews
Pew Center for Civic Journalism
Public Journalism Network, a weblog by Leonard Witt and Colleagues
Public journalism reading list -- Poynter
Red Paper, example of project
Jan Jan (Japanese citizen journalism)
Malaysia.Net (Malaysian citizen journalism)
CitizenReporters.com(International Citizen News)
Cyranos' Journal Online
(First US Radical Media Review)
Shayne Bowman, Chris Willis "We Media: How Audiences are Shaping the Future of News and Information" 2003. "Spanish version"
Mike Hoyt, "Are You Now, or Will You Ever Be, a Civic Journalist? Columbia Journalism Review, September/October 1995.
Edward M. Fouhy, "Civic Journalism: Rebuilding the Foundations of Democracy," Civic Partners, published by the Pew Partnership for Civic Change, Spring 1996.
Campaign Study Group for Associated Press Managing Editors, Pew Center for Civic Journalism, and National Conference of Editorial Writers, "Journalism Interactive: New Attitudes, Tools and Techniques Change Journalism's Landscape," Pew Center for Civic Journalism, July 26, 2001.
Jay Rosen, What Are Journalists For? (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1999), ISBN 0300078234.
Robert Huesca, "And Now Reporting Live ... the People Themselves," Newsday, August 19, 2001, p. B8.
J.D. Lasica, "What is Participatory Journalism?" Online Journalism Review, August 7, 2003.
Mark Glaser, "The New Voices: Hyperlocal Citizen Media Sites Want You (to Write)!" Online Journalism Review, November 17, 2004.
Steve Outing, "How to Integrate Citizen Journalism Into Mainstream News Sites," Editor & Publisher, November 19, 2004.
Leonard Witt, Is Public Journalism Morphing into the Public's Journalism?" National Civic Review, Fall 2004.
Leslie Walker, "On Local Sites, Everyone's A Journalist, Washington Post, December 9, 2004, p. E1.
Tim Clark, JanJan: A Little Online Daily With Big Dreams" Japan Media Review, May 2003.
Dan Gillmor "We the Media: Grassroots Journalism by the People, for the People" (O'Reilly, 2004), ISBN 0596007337.
Mark Glaser, "The Media Company I Want to Work For - Not Someday, But Now," PressThink, December 1, 2004.
Jay Rosen, in [Press Think], about changes at the News & Record in Greensboro, N.C., USA; January 4, 2005.
Todd Thacker, "OhmyNews a 'Marriage of Democracy and Technology,'" OhmyNews.com, December 15, 2004.
Retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citizen_journalism"
Categories: Citizen journalism
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Beau said...

Hello Orikinla. Many thanks for the kind, and inspirational comments you have left on my blog. I am amazed by all of the web logs you are able to maintain so well. I'm sorry I haven't visited recently, but I would be pleased to exchange blog links with you if you are interested.

Orikinla Osinachi. said...

I was notified of your comment on Technorati.

This blog is just for public information on Citizen Journalism and news links updated automatically by AllAfrica.com.

Thanks for coming around.

Many happy returns of the day.

God bless.

Deek Deekster said...

Orikinla Osinachi,

You have left a comment about the Blooker Prize on Blog of Funk. I believe that blogging is an important phenomenon and of great significance worldwide. The comedians to which I was referring were satirising The Blooker, which of course is their right and you might even say, their duty.

Good luck with CJAN! I will link to you.

Orikinla Osinachi. said...


Everything has a beginning.
As we say, Rome was not built in a day.

Thanks for linking me.

God bless.

saby said...

i tink my blog wud qualify as CITIZEN JOURNALISM

i rake up issues the press wud dare not touch

its Sunday morning 7:15 am here Orikinla and all is beautiful

and how u doing in Nigeria ?
u raised VIVA FOREVER to a new level wid your comments

keep up the good work
i am wid u

annony mouses are good fun
word verification is a pain

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