Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Ask an Expert About the Future of 'Citizen Journalism'

Roblimo posted more than 7 years ago | from the mainstream-media-is-quaking-in-its-boots dept.

97

People ranging from Doc Searls to J.D. Lasica to Dan Gillmor to Craig Newmark have talked about how "citizen journalism" is supplanting and/or augmenting professional reporting. (FYI: One of the groundbreaking moments in "citizen journalism" happened right here on Slashdot.) This week's interviewee, NYU professor Jay Rosen, is not only a long-time proponent of civic journalism, but has now started NewAssignment.net with seed money from Craig Newmark, a $10,000 grant from the Sunlight Foundation and, last week, $100,000 from Reuters. Jay Rosen is obviously not just an academic or theoretician, but is actually doing things, which means he can answer almost any question you may have about citizen (or civic) journalism. Usual Slashdot interview rules apply.

Here are some links to articles you may want to read before you post your question(s), if only to avoid duplication:

Web Users Open the Gates
By Jay Rosen
washingtonpost.com
Monday, June 19, 2006

'Blogosphere' spurs government oversight
By Richard Wolf
usatoday.com
September 11, 2006

Open Source Journalism
By Richard Poynder
poynder.blogspot.com
March 28, 2006

Who killed the newspaper?
The Economist
August 24, 2006

AMATEUR HOUR -Journalism without journalists.
by Nicholas Lemann
The New Yorker
July 31, 2006

U.S. Government Should be Focus of Investigative Reports
by Mark Glaser
PBS.org/mediashift
September 7, 2006

cancel ×

97 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

That is... (0)

cschep (1005513) | more than 7 years ago | (#16186935)

Very Cool.

anonymous journalism? (4, Interesting)

Phantom of the Opera (1867) | more than 7 years ago | (#16186965)

Is it possible to be an effective anonymous journalist? I ask because of events like the HP scandal (HP had journalists investigated) and the jailing of Josh Wolf http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2 006/08/01/MNGVQK97AK4.DTL [sfgate.com] .

Re:anonymous journalism? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16218885)

How would you distinguish between the "anonymous journalist" and the "masquerading publicist" or even "troll?"

good question (1)

Phantom of the Opera (1867) | more than 7 years ago | (#16228667)

Interesting question from an anonymous poster. Some possibilities : recorded interviews, photos, video. Text is more problematic.

There is going to be some uncertainty to anything, less with a famous newscaster and more with a stragner. How many people take a stranger's story for the truth if it sounds plausable? If 100 strangers claim to be eye-witnesses and tell about the same story, it could be a conspiracy.

The real utility of anonymous journalism is to direct attention to a particular story rather than spread some gospel.

How to Get More Respect (3, Interesting)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 7 years ago | (#16186975)

I am convinced that online media have made a huge contribution to getting out the truth when the corporate media are seeking to suppress the truth. While there are a growing number of people aware of this phenomenon, reports in the 'blogosphere' just do not get the same respect and currency received by reports in the 'major' or 'corporate' media. What do we, as a community, need to do to enhance the respect internet journalists receive in the world at large?

Re:How to Get More Respect (4, Insightful)

Bob_Villa (926342) | more than 7 years ago | (#16187177)

Get hired by the corporate media?

Seriously, when I think about an internet journalist (blogger) I think about someone who is sitting at home, doesn't go out and look for stories but just looks them up online and posts whatever he/she finds with their own added (probably made up) info. They probably wanted to be a real journalist but couldn't get hired. The truth can hurt, you know.

When you think about a journalist for the New York Times, or Washington Post, etc... you think of people who go out, find the story, interview important people, meet with sources in dark alleys or secluded areas. Maybe I'm wrong to think that way, but how credible do you think you are on your couch, half-naked in front of your computer?

Now, how do you change that? I'd like to see you at the press conference, jockeying with the other people trying to get Bush or whoever to answer your questions. Or I'd like to see you downtown during the protest, filming it and interviewing people about why they are protesting. Get the idea? Maybe some of you do that, but I sure don't think so when I think of internet journalists.

Re:How to Get More Respect (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16187325)

jockeying with the other people trying to get Bush or whoever to answer your questions.
Only to find that if you ask a serious question, you'll never be called on to ask him another question again. Gee, I wonder why exactly people aren't taking the corporate media as seriously anymore?

As for the snide remarks about half naked blogers, I too could characterize all major media as spineless drones repeated whatever drivel their bosses tell them. Yep, the truth does indeed hurt. Or I could instead avoid painting them all with the same broad brush, and instead differentiate the ones who fit the stereotype from the ones who don't...

Nah, who am I kidding? It's much more fun to lump all of 'em into the same category.

Re:How to Get More Respect (1)

JockTroll (996521) | more than 7 years ago | (#16187435)

Respect? A journalist is already someone who is universally recognized as a good-for-nothing sorry excuse for a human being who can't actually do anything of his own so he only gets to write nonsense about what Real People actually do. And yet he wields some measure of power and influence internet geeks can only dream of.

An internet journalist is even lower than that and qualifies as a pathetic loserboy who failed even at being a real journalist. Seriously, are you even listening to yourselves?

Re:How to Get More Respect (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16189959)

Somebody's bitter :-) Lemme guess, they didn't accept you in journalism school either?

Re:How to Get More Respect (2, Insightful)

Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) | more than 7 years ago | (#16188097)

>When you think about a journalist for the New York Times, or Washington Post, etc... you think of people who go out, find the story, interview important people, meet with sources in dark alleys or secluded areas. Maybe I'm wrong to think that way

Thirty years ago you would have been right. Journalists used to be taught "legwork", going out and getting a story.

Today's mainstream journalists show video from "photo opportunities" and report "he said/he said". They sit in the Green Zone and send home reports from their Iraqi stringers. If they ask awkward questions at press conferences then they find their supply of "leaks" cut off and in extreme cases they're banned from the White House. When is the last time you saw a "scoop"?

The opportunity for citizen journalists is to pick up the abandoned profession of journalism. There is a need and (I hope) an audience.

Re:How to Get More Respect (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16189941)

Um, I can assure you that journalists are still taught legwork.

Honestly, I get really tired of the term 'citizen journalists'. For one thing, we barely get paid enough to qualify us as professionals anyway, and for another thing, the whole point of journalism is to give the community a forum in which to discuss its issues.

That means if you are helping to create that discussion, you can call yourself a journalist. You don't need to stick the hacky 'citizen' label in front of it.

There are a lot more journalists out there than those you see on the broadcast news. There are a lot of us who are out there in our communities, reporting on the little stories, the non-national stories, the stories that are still important to a community.

We spend a lot of time sitting through the boring city council meetings, trying to get all sides of a story, doing our best to search for truth. It's not very exciting, and it doesn't get us famous, but it helps people who don't have the time/resources to sit through these meetings to learn what's happening in their community, and it gives them an opportunity to do something about it.

Journalists aren't all broadcasters on CNN. And you can be one too! It's easy! I'll see you at the boring city council meeting.

Re:How to Get More Respect (1)

Bob_Villa (926342) | more than 7 years ago | (#16197417)

But you know, I'd like to see that. I'd love to see these citizen journalists go out there, doing real journalism and competing with the big boys. I'd love to see them invading the press boxes, asking the tough questions and getting thrown out when nobody else will ask. That is how things change, when people get the balls to take a chance, do something they aren't supposed to, step outside the box and make the others think for a second about why they became journalists in the first place.

It makes me mad when bloggers pretend to be journalists, but won't even make an effort. I'm not even talking about Iraq, how about in the reasonably safe USA, get out there and work at it! I think the secret prisons was a pretty good scoop that freaked out the white house when it was released by big media. Yes, they had to get approval to run with it, and the administration said no, but they finally did it anyway. Or how about the warrentless wiretapping (spying) on Americans? Those are good stories and can't have been that easy to get.

Re:How to Get More Respect (1)

RobertinXinyang (1001181) | more than 7 years ago | (#16195921)

I think that one of the problems that bloggers have is that they try to be more than they are. As you said, many bloggers, who think of thenselves as journalists, are nothing more than parrots. Some like to comment on things that they have no real depth of understanding in

It is th eones that like to comment on thisge at they have no depth of understanding in that polute the entire blog concept. They create the ompression that the entire blog phenomin is nothing more than ignorant people spouting off. They also create the noise that the informed people get lost in. For each blog written by a person with real knowledge there are so many ignorant ones that the information gets lost in the flood.

If people would just be honest about their limitations, and the limitations of their expertise on the topic that they are writing about, the whole system would have a much better chance of being accepted a creditable. As it is, we have freshmen art majors (nothing aginst art majors, my wife was an art major) trying to pontificat on evrything form Global Warming, Global Politics, and Global Econonomics, to the reason the his girlfriends hair looks funny when she dies it orange. There is just no creditibality. In my blog, I make it clear, it is a reflection of my observations (here I will pimp my blog http://www.myspace.com/robert_crawford [myspace.com] ). I am not saying that I am the know it all of blogs. I accept that most of you can do better. All I am saying that it is my observations. If prople would just be more honest aboutt the real limitations of thier blog, the respect would come.

Re:How to Get More Respect (1)

Bob_Villa (926342) | more than 7 years ago | (#16197445)

I like your answer, they should put a disclaimer on their blogs: "I am not a journalist, I do not go outside, my only source is cnn or reuters".

I'd check out your blog but my company blocks myspace due to mature content? *sigh* I'd like to see an example where somebody makes a little effort.

Re:How to Get More Respect (1)

RobertinXinyang (1001181) | more than 7 years ago | (#16198073)

I suspect that you may be disapointed. It is a journal about my experinces in coming to, And working in, China. The key point is that they are my experinces; not some rehash of someone elses. As such, I feel emiently qualified to comment on them.

Re:How to Get More Respect (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16353159)

When you think about a journalist for the New York Times, or Washington Post, etc... you think of people who go out, find the story, interview important people, meet with sources in dark alleys or secluded areas.

You mean republish press releases and parrot propaganda, don't you? That's all that I've seen the major media doing in the last few years.

Re:How to Get More Respect (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16187293)

Your question makes absolutely no sense. Where are you getting this idea of 'currency' from?

Plagiarism and Ethics? (2, Interesting)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 7 years ago | (#16187397)

Lately there's been a few incidents of Plagiarism in the news, not to mention some wholesale ethical breaches of faked stories (e.g. Blair at the NY times and "a million Little pieces"). But the thing is the reason those are news is that they are both exceptional and something that is specifically drummed in to any professional journalist not to do. Indeed breaking this taboo is probably even more of a sin to the the fellow journalists than to the general public because of this entrenched ethic. Yet we know that on college campuses, where we can measure the phenomena, Plagiarism is comparatively rampant. So evidently the common man cannot restrain himself. It seems to me this is a serious issue for any new journlism form with a low barrier to entry and a high degree of anonimity for the author. How does this ethos get enforced in such a realm? A related question is the ethic division of commentary and news. We know that's become a problem in the media for some outlets where management has a thumb on the content. But the traditional news organs, especially newspapers, still refrain to the most part. Indeed the NY times just went so far as to remove the typset justification from any article that comtained any sort of analysis or opinion, and reserving the typsetting for only traditional factual journalism stories so the difference is apparent to the reader from the start. How do we reinforce that ethos in the untrain journalist?

It seems to me that the formal mechanism of the separation of the Editor&publisher from the writer is how such standards arose in the firstplace. The writer cannot just publish what they want. And the Editor&Publisher is concerned with establishing the Paper's reputation and can take a long view.

News and commentary (1)

Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) | more than 7 years ago | (#16188167)

Can't you have useful journalism if the two are mixed?

The Economist wears their bias on their sleeve and will write articles about the EU agricultural policies that slip in the word "lunatic". They also send out reporters to the places they cover and resist government pressure. Sometimes they're even accurate on subjects I know about, a rare thing indeed.

The US court system trusts a refereed argument between two biased advocates to dig up the truth. If bias is disclosed and reporting is honest, then you can synthesize objectivity by reading two one-sided reports. "Better an honest enemy than a false friend".

Not the issue (1)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 7 years ago | (#16190053)

That's just what the NY times is doing. Sure you can intersperse news and commentary, but they are being scrupulous to label it clearly as containing commentary. It's not the same as straight Journalism. People reading the economis, or listening to Rush Limbaugh know and expect this. People reading less well defined venues don't know this. That's the challenge for blog journalism, because the distinction matters a great deal.

There is a difference between bias and deception (1)

Analogy Man (601298) | more than 7 years ago | (#16190559)

There is a difference between bias and deception. If a news source reports news that is favorable to one side of a debate that is bias. If you just plain make crap up, that is deception. Although the NY Times is arguably biased they do have fact checkers and generally strive to get their stories right.

Rush on the other hand frames his "facts and statistics" with assurances he is telling the truth (pretty much identifying the crap he has pulled from his fat ass).

Re:How to Get More Respect (1)

portmapper (991533) | more than 7 years ago | (#16187509)

I am convinced that online media have made a huge contribution to getting out the truth when the corporate media are seeking to suppress the truth.

Much of the online media is corporate ;-) But there are very good sites [zmag.org] for with very good articles from authors interested in truth rather than not offending advertisers.

Re:How to Get More Respect (1)

nephridium (928664) | more than 7 years ago | (#16187771)

On first glance the problem looks to be credibility. We are more inclined to think of things we see on the net as fake compared to traditional media outlets, because admittedly there is far more fake stuff floating around on the net (and don't forget astroturfing etc.). Though the 'old media' can be very deceptive and even outright lie to it's viewers/readers they juice it up with a little truth here and there to not lose the credibility of their pliable crowd.

The fact is (unless you live in a country that effectively restricts access to certain media) that nowadays it is technically possible to get a more accurate picture of current (and past) events. The internet with its 'blogosphere' et al are doing a great job helping with that, but a lot of information is indeed already out there on traditional media. Watching BBC World and CNN International instead of Fox News and CNN US or reading foreign newspapers would give citizens a much broader perspective on current events.

The real problem though, is that most people just want 'simple' 'entertaining' news after a day's work and not delve into a battle in the search for the truth; this unfortunately appears to be only the privilege of journalists and people with spare time on their hands such as students and geeks ;) - The system has been molded to work like this and even if certain websites would establish themselves as a credible news source it wouldn't counter this main problem.

Re:How to Get More Respect (1)

AEton (654737) | more than 7 years ago | (#16195481)

As a New York county lawyer, you've doubtless heard of William Glaberson's "Broken Bench" series for the Times (part one [nytimes.com] ), part two [nytimes.com] , username/password "cyberpunks" if you need one).

At least five dozen sources were contacted, and probably hundreds more; this series has been maybe a year in the making.

Do you think that citizen journalists, working alone with little "journalism school experience" and presumably holding down some other job, can produce similarly well-researched articles?

What about mob-rule journalism? (4, Interesting)

Chas (5144) | more than 7 years ago | (#16186979)

What sort of safeguards are in place to do fact-checking and prevent false/obviously slanted mob-rule style reports from being propagated as fact?

Re:What about mob-rule journalism? (1)

StressGuy (472374) | more than 7 years ago | (#16187091)

I don't know, perhaps we should ask the fine folks over at the Fox News Network ...gotta go now...

Re:What about mob-rule journalism? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16187113)

...wait, traditional media outlets have those sorts of safeguards?!

Re:What about mob-rule journalism? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16187203)

What sort of safeguards are in place to do fact-checking and prevent false/obviously slanted, fascistic style reports from being propagated as fact?

Re:What about mob-rule journalism? (1)

lawpoop (604919) | more than 7 years ago | (#16187233)

One of the safeguards inherent in the system is to scoop a fellow 'internet reporter' and destroy their story. If you can show that someone else's report is dmeonstrably false, that improves your credibility, and tells readers that they need to come to *you* in order to get the accurate story. If you want a bigger audience, debunk other's stories, and tell good, solid stories yourself.

Re:What about mob-rule journalism? (1)

corbettw (214229) | more than 7 years ago | (#16187409)

What sort of safeguards are in place to do fact-checking and prevent false/obviously slanted mob-rule style reports from being propagated as fact?

Considering that Reuters is one of the players involved, I'd say the answer is "None." [littlegreenfootballs.com]

Re:What about mob-rule journalism? (1)

daniil (775990) | more than 7 years ago | (#16188963)

I think what we're dealing here with is a misconception (a pretty common one, I might add) of what a photo is. The misconception is that a photo can somehow magically reproduce something the way it is, while in reality, all photos are staged to some extent, even the ones were "lucky shots" (you'll still have to frame them, etc). Press photos are doubly so. A press photographer has to take interesting photos. The photos have to be interesting because if they aren't, noone will buy them. These photos also have to produce some sort of an emotion in the reader/viewer. These photos don't have to give an exact account of what happened (this is what the article text is for) but simply illustrate the news piece and, perhaps, reinforce its message (that war is a horrible thing, for instace). At the same time, the article text or the photo caption serve as context for the image, "framing" or "staging" it.

Of course, digital cameras have changed things quite a bit. You can get digital images "up" very fast, but this speed comes at a price: they are easier to forge and the forgeries are more likely to go unnoticed because of the large number of images. It seems to me that the "traditional" media haven't quite accustomed to this yet. But this doesn't mean that there are no safeguards against such incidents. It also doesn't mean that they don't care if the pictures are real or fakes -- in all the cases where a photo journalist has been caught manipulating images (at least in all the cases I've heard of), that person has promptly been fired.

Re:What about mob-rule journalism? (1)

quantaman (517394) | more than 7 years ago | (#16196493)

What sort of safeguards are in place to do fact-checking and prevent false/obviously slanted mob-rule style reports from being propagated as fact?

The same as there are with current journalism, the rest of the mob.

Every time I watch the news or read a news report and I watch a report of event X in country Y I have to wonder how accurate a picture I'm getting. For the basic facts it's easy to look up a few different sources on google news, but to get an interpretation that isn't misleading me in some way seems almost impossible (definitely impossible to confirm it's unbiased).

Just look at any story that comes up concerning the US president and notice how there are at least two very valid sounding and completely contradictory viewpoints in the mainstream media. I'm beginning to feel that I can't trust the media for anything more than the bare facts (which themselves can be misleading when chosen carefully). Maybe citizen journalism will help to keep the mainstream media in check, or maybe I'm doomed to live in a cloud of uncertainty.

If I was "Citizen Journalist" ... (0)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#16186989)

Would I still be entitled to my First Admendment right for writing an article that a certain administration should be subject to for war crimes concerning Iraq? Or would I be hauled off to jail as a terrorist?

Re:If I was "Citizen Journalist" ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16187181)

Why don't you start with grammar, and then move on to stupid paranoid delusions of grandeur when you can write a certain lucid sentence...?

Re:If I was "Citizen Journalist" ... (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#16187467)

... stupid paranoid delusions of grandeur ...

That's interesting considering what's going on. If the house of cards that the administration has constructed falls down, indictments for war crimes becomes a serious possibility. Now are citizen journalists going to rally around the flag like professional journalists or report the crap hitting the fan?

Heavens No! Of course not.... (0, Flamebait)

StressGuy (472374) | more than 7 years ago | (#16187187)

You'd be escorted to a sunny, tropical, government run facility in the south Atlantic to answer a few simple questions. In exchange, you'll have the opportunity to be "debriefed" on some of the incorrect information you may have received from terrorist sympathizer living among us.

Just a tip...when they ask, go with the "two scoop" lobotomy.

Re:If I was "Citizen Journalist" ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16187205)

It depends on how big (measured in power over the people) your government is. Logically, there comes a point in the expansion of government (all governments expand in power throughout their lifetimes) where the power elite gain enough power to engage in censorship. This leaves you with only one question: Has your government reached that point yet?

(Hint: There is a reason why the US government and its policies are overwhelmingly represented in a positive tone by US mass media corporations, especially when compared to "underground" journalism or foreign sources. Also consider that censorship doesn't necessarily imply direct, outright rules on what can be said -- money can speak louder than words.)

Re:If I was "Citizen Journalist" ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16188633)

"There is a reason why the US government and its policies are overwhelmingly represented in a positive tone by US mass media corporations"

Profits.

Where do you see newspapers' role in this? (2, Insightful)

Stick_Fig (740331) | more than 7 years ago | (#16186997)

First off, my credentials: I'm the former employee of an experimental newspaper, Bluffton Today (http://www.blufftontoday.com), located in Bluffton, South Carolina. It's an exciting place, let me tell you. The focus has been on reverse publishing but at the same time tempering blogs with traditional journalism. The staff still writes articles; they still edit heavily. They use the web only to the degree where it doesn't dip into libel and slander and builds on its strengths. My question to you is, do you think Bluffton is on the right track? It felt like, in the 15 months I was there, they definitely were, but I'm a biased party. I left thinking, "If only newspapers did more of this..." I know what I'm betting the farm on in my career, and it isn't tired, boring, traditional journalism. It isn't the straight and narrow of blogs, either. Rather, I feel that it's important to look at both sides and find how they can work together, because God knows there's some 60-year-old editor somewhere who won't look at Bluffton as anything more than a gimmick. I'm gonna be that guy in the newsroom fighting the good fight to get more untraditional voices into the the paper in more places than the editorial page.

Re:Where do you see newspapers' role in this? (1)

boyfaceddog (788041) | more than 7 years ago | (#16187273)

There is no such thing as an untraditional voice, just temporarily unconventional sources of information and streams of publication. If you want to call your column a blog, or vice versa, do it. Use a different style if it suits your (and your editor). By all means, publish electronically if you can get money for it. Just don't call yourselves innovative and believe it.

"New Press" proejcts sound hokey (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16187001)

I am sick of write-ups that sound all profound: "But journalism, like too many other industries, is in many respects too hidebound to generate revolutionary change from within..." When I hear about blogs, even on mainstream news tv, I just totally ignore whatever it is. I mean, the fact that the framing is biased means that the blogger that is offering a different opinion doesn't make it less biased.

Anyway, about these write-ups... I think that "news sites" that offer "the truth the media companies don't want you to see" or "it's an exciting time to be telling the news and the possibilities are invigorating, if you're not scared to death," are attempting to appeal to the niche of people that are probably arrogant (think that they know better than mainstream news) or they idealize websites that dissent from maintstream. I can't stand either of those niches so I don't view those websites.

I'm not trying to knock anyone, but I think if you're going to make a big impact in the long term, you should present your news in the same manner that mainstream news does. For example, the Christian Science Monitor. Everyone sees the name and steers clear, until they hear that they actually have accurate write-ups. But nobody ever says "that shmuck blogger has very un-biased news articles."

Money (2, Insightful)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 7 years ago | (#16187049)

Do you believe that as money flows into civic journalism that it'll change the equation? Obviously there are some people who's primary goal is to become famous and/or make money through more open journalism. Will the large community of contributors flush out those with less altruistic intentions? I guess I'm really asking will civic journalism be self-correcting as it gets bigger? Or is there a way it may become just as corrupted as much of the current mainstream professional journalism?

Re:Money (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16187531)

Obviously there are some people who's primary goal is to become famous and/or make money through more open journalism. Will the large community of contributors flush out those with less altruistic intentions?


Is there any reasons why being ambition from reporters -- hungry for recognition or a good career -- leads to poor journalism? I would think this would be a key intention to tap into. While the current institutions don't do this well, it seems to me that the future of the press rests on whether or not ambition can be effectively channeled, not necessarily "flushed out."

I think the "pro" is just as important as the "am" in "pro-am." Amateurs provide a breadth of coverage impossible with professionals, just as professionals provide (in theory) a career committment to quality. However, the secret sauce is that people can move from one to the other:

Professionals have to compete with ambitious amateurs to keep their jobs. This helps keep them honest and on their toes.

At any time, a professional who feels too constrained by their institution can take their skills and go indie. This should help prevent institutions from hoarding talent in the long run.

This speaks to your point about "self-correction," which is sort of an ideal which I doubt any system will live up to at all times. Still, to the extent that citizen journalism is open and transparent (even if some sources are still anonymous and some information not available until after a story is "published"), it should be "self-correctable" if not necessarily self-correcting in every case.

I wonder.. (0, Flamebait)

djuuss (854954) | more than 7 years ago | (#16187061)

.. where 'loose change' fits in

Re:I wonder.. (1)

flosofl (626809) | more than 7 years ago | (#16188881)

.. where 'loose change' fits in
...Fantasy?

mod 04 (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16187085)

bulk of the FrreBSD market share. Red and the Bazaar Shower Don't just moans and groans may be hurting

open monitoring of governmetn (1)

joeypruett (1002006) | more than 7 years ago | (#16187125)

would this type of public journalism lend itself to much better monitoring of our government? if the books were all wide open for easier electronic review, maybe we could spot waste and fraud easier?

Just the facts (1)

boyfaceddog (788041) | more than 7 years ago | (#16187219)

When citizen journalists can report without overwhelming bias and with their FACTS CHECKED, then we will have something. For now, every CJ story should be considered fiction until verified.

And yes I DO know that this goes for the mainstream media as well, but twice as much for CJ.

What's wrong with other extant examples? (4, Interesting)

crush (19364) | more than 7 years ago | (#16187245)

I'm assuming that you evaluated and rejected some of the other high-profile citizen journalism outfits that predate the founding of your own project. Off my head I can think of:
  • The Indymedia [indymedia.org] network is one of the longest standing examples of an attempt to have a large citizen journalist network.
  • The Pacifica Network [pacifica.org] (especially the Democracy Now show
  • The New Standard [newstandardnews.net]
What was it that you found lacking in the above and why did you decide to start a new project instead of reforming and adapting one of the above? Do you think that your decision to accept corporate sponsorship (which is rejected by the Pacifica Network) will see your organization's focus inevitably drift toward the anodyne ineffectiveness of e.g. NPR?

Re:What's wrong with other extant examples? (1)

crush (19364) | more than 7 years ago | (#16187277)

And of course, how could I forget WikiNews [wikinews.org] ?

Re:What's wrong with other extant examples? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16187577)

And of course, how could I forget WikiNews?

Anyone else think that a news site where anybody can alter stories is not necessarily the most credible source of information?

Re:What's wrong with other extant examples? (1)

crush (19364) | more than 7 years ago | (#16188003)

Well,if you buy the wiki concept then there should be enough non-malicious, non-misinformed people with the ability to change any errors back and sanity will win out.

This is an interview. Please ask questions. (1)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 7 years ago | (#16187271)

I notice that there seem to be some members who are not aware that this is a call for interview questions, and are answering the questions, or making comments.

This is part of the interview process, and is for folks to submit questions to Prof. Jay Rosen, and for the moderators to moderate the questions. Thanks.

Re:This is an interview. Please ask questions. (1)

Monkeyman334 (205694) | more than 7 years ago | (#16187485)

Note: Slashdot editors, despite all the negative comments about them, are able to distinguish between comments and questions. They will only foward questions, and they will foward them regardless of whether or not they were answered by a comment.

This is an interview. Please ask questions-Hand up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16187811)

Hmm. I see you're still here and have a paid account. Glad we didn't scare you off. Now here's one for the record books. What's the law have to say about citizen reporters. e.g reporting leaked Apple information, and responsability?

Re:This is an interview. Please ask questions. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16187957)

I'm sorry, I missed the interview question in your post. What is it?

Plagiarism and Ethics? (2, Insightful)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 7 years ago | (#16187299)

Lately there's been a few incidents of Plagiarism in the news, not to mention some wholesale ethical breaches of faked stories (e.g. Blair at the NY times and "a million Little pieces"). But the thing is the reason those are news is that they are both exceptional and something that is specifically drummed in to any professional journalist not to do. In deed breaking this taboo is probably even more of a sin to the the fellow journalists than to the general public because of this entrenched ethic.

Yet we know that on college campuses, where we can measure the phenomena, Plagiarism is comparatively rampant. So evidently the common man cannot restrain himself.

It seems to me this is a serious issue for any new journlism form with a low barrier to entry and a high degree of anonimity for the author. How does this ethos get enforced in such a realm?

A related question is the ethic division of commentary and news. We know that's become a problem in the media for some outlets where management has a thumb on the content. But the traditional news organs, especially newspapers, still refrain to the most part. Indeed the NY times just went so far as to remove the typset justification from any article that comtained any sort of analysis or opinion, and reserving the typsetting for only traditional factual journalism stories so the difference is apparent to the reader from the start. How do we reinforce that ethos in the untrain journalist?

Huh? Re:Plagiarism and Ethics? (1)

mblase (200735) | more than 7 years ago | (#16187911)

You say: But the thing is the reason those are news is that they are both exceptional and something that is specifically drummed in to any professional journalist not to do.

But then: Yet we know that on college campuses, where we can measure the phenomena, Plagiarism is comparatively rampant. So evidently the common man cannot restrain himself.

As if college students haven't had it drummed into them since their earliest schooling days that cheating is wrong.

Or are you trying to say that professional journalists are, by their training, somehow morally superior to the "common man"? Either way, your reasoning is poor.

Pretending that 99% of journalists are honest is like saying 99% of office workers never steal pens. Stop using Perry White and Clark Kent as your typical journalists and keep in mind J. Jonah Jameson as well.

missing the point. (1)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 7 years ago | (#16189791)

Without the editor&publisher supervising the Jouralist, there is more opportunity for ethical breaches.

The point was not that journalist don't have ethocs problems, as you rightly observe. The point is that this neew medium has a low barrier to entry and a bigh degree of anonimity. Couple that with no editor&publisher taking the long view of establishing the reputation of the journal in a High-barrier-to-entry medium, then you have a looming problem.

A possible retort would be to say that well, time will sort the good from the idiots. But empirically this does not appear to be true. Like the famous economic principle of bad apples driving the good out of the marketplace because of insufficient resources by the consumer to differentiate them, the web is a plethora bad apple paradise. So either you wind up with a system that is rife with bad apples. or you revert back to the non-anonymous, higher-barrier-to-entry system of a credential and reputation based system, like tradiational media.

The question was how to avoid those inevitable, and well proven, economic outcomes.

Re:Plagiarism and Ethics? (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 7 years ago | (#16188733)

Lately there's been a few incidents of Plagiarism in the news, not to mention some wholesale ethical breaches of faked stories (e.g. Blair at the NY times and "a million Little pieces"). But the thing is the reason those are news is that they are both exceptional and something that is specifically drummed in to any professional journalist not to do.

I disagree. "Traditional journalism" is rife with "press release reporting" where someone reads a press release, rewrites it, maybe calls a few sources starting with the company's (or government's) own PR department and then publishes it as news. That kind of reporting is so common that it basically gets a free pass nowadays.

I'll traditional plagiarism where at least the original author put in the legwork to come up with his own perspective over the parroting of a PR campaign. [paulgraham.com]

fruit of the vine (1)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 7 years ago | (#16189577)

Copying a press release is NOT plagairism. It's like fruit of the vine: the plant wants you to eat it's fruit. The Fruit's sugar is not there to help the seed, it's there to get you to ingest it, and deposit the seed in a big hunk of poo.

printing quotes from a press release and planting them in a nice steaming front page story is what the PR firm wants you to do. That's why they provide the partially preapred ingredients for you. Indeed if you do it without attribution the happier they are.

What's the difference? Taking when attribution is expected is plagiarism.

Re:fruit of the vine (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 7 years ago | (#16193891)

What's the difference? Taking when attribution is expected is plagiarism.

You gotta be pulling my leg.

As the reader of the newspaper, and presumably the one paying for it, *I* expect attribution.

Scale (1)

FuturePastNow (836765) | more than 7 years ago | (#16187321)

First, I'll admit that I haven't read much about citizen jounalism other than Jeff Jarvis' http://www.buzzmachine.com/ [buzzmachine.com] , but as a non-blogger thinking of getting in to it, I was wondering:

Much of the discussion seems to be about getting out from under the control of "gatekeepers" like publishers and media owners. Yet, while the internet is less concerned with money, it has its own form of currency: popularity, in the form of the link.

Doesn't this just turn the highest-traffic sites into new gatekeepers? Especially as the number of blogs increases, the gap between "rich" and "poor" expands?

I suppose what I'm really asking is, it's hard enough to get noticed today- how will someone just starting out get noticed ten years from now?

How does NewAssignment.Net Work? (2)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 7 years ago | (#16187333)

I am intrigued by your new project, NewAssignment.Net [newassignment.net] . How exactly does it work?

How do I get into the whitehouse press briefings? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16187461)

I think for the next 25 years or so any "citizen" journalists will be at a severe disadvantage because the system simply is not set up to accomodate them. At least when you get a job with a real media outlet, there is a bit of a vetting procedure where they won't just hire any joe shmoe off the street... generally some credentials are needed (eg: a year of "journalism school", a couple of years reading the news at the local radio station, etc. etc) If anybody can be a journalist, then it also means that any CRAZY body can be a journalist. Since time is finite, In order to prevent the few crazy people from asking crazy questions and wasting everybody's time (eg: "why is the government covering up the failure of all the manned moon missions to the big cheese ball in the sky?"), these citizen journalists will simply get locked out of most already existing establishments and only "real" journalists will be asking the questions.
There will always be a bias away from "citizen" journalists because of this.

mod 3o3n (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16187495)

in jocks or chaps BSD had become Guys are usually it. Do not share Have their moments Join GNAA (GAY CAN NO LONGER BE All major surveys progress. In 1992, Person. Ask your themselves to be a backward and said lesson and it a break, if ppor dead last during play, this MAKES ME SICK JUST it. Do not share architecture. My gawker At most the hard drive to bottoms butt. Wipe I know it sux0rs, of OpenBSD versus You join today! Exactly what you've minutes now while the resignation out of business

Who are the idols of citizen journalists? (1)

tmk (712144) | more than 7 years ago | (#16187545)

Learn citizen journalists from solid journalism, yellow press or from public relation? Do they want to inform or does the bias of each and everyone poison the new medium from start?

I had a look on the "readers edition", a german platform for citizen journalism. Nearly half of the submitted articles are not published because they are bear promotion of books, internet services or parties. The published articles are mostly "commentaries" which lack of every rule of argumentation or research. Sometime it seems citizen journalism combines the bad attributes of mass media.

fact vs. opinion vs. conjecture (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16187555)

How does CJ work on a large scale when the average citizen cannot tell the difference between fact, opinion or conjecture? The average citizen also has no contacts (expert opinion, etc.) nor any idea of frame-of-reference. How does this work when the citizen is intrinsically un-informed?

Dilution of Protection? (1)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 7 years ago | (#16187795)

How long before corporations and wealthy individuals start employing goons, lawyers and wiretaps, a la HP, to threaten and intimidate citizen journalists with no real legal recourse? If faced with this, should a citizen journalist just back off and let the guilty win? How can the protections now enjoyed by the fourth estate be extended to citizen journalism without diluting them?

What impact would this have on national elections? (1)

StressGuy (472374) | more than 7 years ago | (#16187813)

The Electoral process seems to be more of a "marketing contest" and marketing takes bags and bags of money. There's commercial time, signs, billboards, radio, etc. Let's face it, a commercial is, at most 90 seconds to tell me why I should vote for you - hardly enough time. So, all we see are glittering generalities or, all to often, "don't vote for the other guy" spots.

If "Citizen Jounalism" takes off, do you see this as a way that candidates without the massive financial resources normally required to sustain a traditional campain could actually compete? Could this make the "third party candidates" a credible threat? Could this actually serve to "level the playing field"?

Re:What impact would this have on national electio (1)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | more than 7 years ago | (#16188979)

Do you see the "Big Boys" influencing the Citizen Journalists directed through (mis)advertising just like they influence the general public? Or, would the CJs, be smarter than your average bear and relativly immune to big money influnce the way that "real" journalists are? (:-)

Re:What impact would this have on national electio (1)

StressGuy (472374) | more than 7 years ago | (#16190979)

I see what your are saying, but what I'm actually saying is that the CJ's more numerous, tend work on smaller budgets, and be more diverse in thier motivations. As a result, it is much harder to influence all of them. Sure, you can buy some of them, but the overall effect is mitigated by the inherent diversity of CJ.

But let's see what the expert says.

Journalism vs Commentary (2, Interesting)

teflaime (738532) | more than 7 years ago | (#16187815)

Much of what we see in the blogosphere is pure opinion supported with selective representation of fact, half-truths, and the occasionally bald-faced lie. In fact, it has been shown repeatedly that "big name" bloggers (regardless their ideaological stripe) are not above representing pure propaganda as lily white truth. Does ethical journalism matter in this environment? Will it matter that a journalist include the fullest picture of the story possible if people are turning to partisan ideologues with specific agendas and an interest in misrepresentation for their news?

Checks and balances (1)

BabyEatinDingo (1005547) | more than 7 years ago | (#16187847)

In a traditional journalism environment (theoretically, at least), a reporter submits a story to an editor, who checks the story based on a list of criteria to make sure the facts are correct and that the story is solely an account of the facts and not the reporter's opinion of them. In a good newsroom, the same story will go to two or three different editors for the same checks, and (ideally) the different editors will have different backgrounds, different political leanings, and generally won't get along with each other; that insures that a story is unlikely to be anything but an account of the facts.

This ideal situation doesn't happen often, but it does happen... and most responsible news organizations at least make an attempt to reach that level of impartiality.

In contrast, most "citizen journalism" doesn't go through any fact-checking or opinion-filtering until after it's posted, and much of it doesn't go through any, ever. There's also a very fuzzy definition of the difference between a journalistic story and an opinion column in many people's minds, as evidenced by many of the questions and comments posted here.

While "citizen journalism" has its place, can it ever be an effective means of disseminating factual information, without a structured system of checks and balances in place?

Blogging (1)

From A Far Away Land (930780) | more than 7 years ago | (#16187979)

When asking a primary source for information, I find that telling them I'm doing so to create a report on my blog tends to make them clam up, or continue to be unwilling to provide information that ought to be publicly available. What technique or phrases should I use to convince the interviewee that I both have a legitimate use for their information, and right to obtain it.

Re:Blogging (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 7 years ago | (#16212527)

What technique or phrases should I use to convince the interviewee that I both have a legitimate use for their information, and right to obtain it.
"Here's fifty quid."

Funding for long term reporting? (1)

pyrotic (169450) | more than 7 years ago | (#16188035)

How do you think long term reporting will be funded in future? For example, infiltrating mafia gangs, exploring the intricacies of unfashionable African wars, following terror operations across continents. These aren't something the average citizen journalist can find time to do, let alone the funding.

doesn't matter...really (1)

not a cylon (1003138) | more than 7 years ago | (#16188041)

This'll sound horribly cynical (because it is), but seriously, at least in the U.S., it really doesn't matter *who* is doing the reporting.

Why? Because most people don't care about getting the truth, or holding officials accountable. Yes, we will bitch about "the world" over the water cooler, but nobody actually wants to do anything about it.

Case in point. TV news. It's barely news anymore. Mostly opinion. And yelling. Oh, and cars chases, gotta have those. Why is it this way? Because viewers want it that way, despite what they may say to the contrary.

Journalism *can* have power. But they can only report. They can't make people care.

Hold on now. (1)

Moofie (22272) | more than 7 years ago | (#16188243)

Cognitive dissonance anyone? If one accepts the premise that ordinary citizens can be effective journalists, why does one need an expert to vet that premise?

You can't just count vulnerabilities (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 7 years ago | (#16189273)

An analogy. One bank has a dozen vulnerabilities assuming that someone has a man on the inside, and has a login to the computer system. Another bank has a single vulnerability. They keep the back door of the vault open and unguarded 24 hours a day. Which is least secure? The one with 1 vulnerability or the one with 12?

Moo (1)

Chacham (981) | more than 7 years ago | (#16189383)

There is a lot of bias in the mainstream media. Whether it's this way or that way depends on which reader is asked, but the reporter himself almost always feels they are not biased. They probably mean it too, since everyone sees themselves as a centrist.

On blogs, where a more personal touch is expected and delivered, bias it outright. There the opposite happens. The readers (with the same bias as the blogger) see the entries as centrist. The writer states the bias at the outset, and then is free to be biased.

Bias has pros and cons. Pros include that it provides the invisible thread that ties everything together, and gives (supposed) background for the facts. Cons include that it can skip important facts, or cloud the readers judgement before the facts are clearly given.

No bias also has pros and cons. Pros include "just the facts", and the lack of need to read someone with a competing bias just to get the real story. Cons include the bias of the reporter which is not stated (because the attempt at being non-biased failed), and the desire to find opposing views, no matter how (in)significant or evidence just to sound unbiased.

My question is then, where does 'Citizen Journalism' fall into bias? Is there bias? Whose then? The reporters? The payers? The non-paying contributors? Or is there no bias? In which case, what safeguards are there from faling into the normal trap of stating and believing in no bias, even though there clearly is one?

Center for Citizen Media (1)

j (2547) | more than 7 years ago | (#16189635)

Please note that Dan Gillmor now blogs at The Center for Citizen Media [citmedia.org] - not Bayosphere, which is now part of Backfence [backfence.com] .

Is this really independent journalism? (1)

Alpha_Traveller (685367) | more than 7 years ago | (#16189935)

Web sites are still in no way "if you built it they will come" kind of media. Because I write something about a subject doesn't mean it's journalism. I would argue that almost anything we write is only news if it's noticed, promoted or a part of a subject non-random sweep such as an agent looking for specific things. Journalism is rarely biased, rarely unpromoted without an agenda behind it and rarely noticed without a subject's interest.
What is your opinion on blogs and this so-called Journalistic independence?

Slashdot missed the boat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16190257)

Slashdot's hardly at the forefront of citizen journalism. As best I could tell at the time, its gatekeepers kept most readers from finding out about the number one Internet citizen news story of the 2004 elections--the exposure of the forged Rathergate Memos by blogs such as littlegreenfootballs.com. That resulted in CBS getting egg on its face and Dan Rather resigning a year earlier than he wanted-no small feat for a one-man blog and a few dozen ordinary citizens who can think for themselves. Compare that with the many hundreds of mainstream media outlets who confused "60 Minutes" with careful journalism. They echoed what CBS had said without checking the evidence for themselves.

That's why I prefer Digg to Slashdot. At the former there's no shadowy group with an agenda dictating what we see on the main webpage. Digg is democratic. Slashdot is run by a cabal.

How to help (1)

unum15 (695402) | more than 7 years ago | (#16190897)

I helped run a LUG (fslc.usu.edu) for four years. I want to help the spread the Free Software ideals to non-programmers and I feel like civic journalism is the most important area for those ideals to be spread. So I want to start a new group (ugotta.org) that helps people take advantage of technology to publish there views on whatever they feel they need to talk about. So my question is what is the gap? What are the sort of things that people need to know to become better civic journalists? The technology(blogs), the resources(blogger.com), advertising? What topics would bring people to that type of meeting?

How To Get Same Protection As Print? (1)

cmholm (69081) | more than 7 years ago | (#16191111)

On the assumption that we're not just talking citizen journalism, but electronic citizen journalism: how can I, as a US citizen publishing on the net, get the same First Amendment and case law protection as a print journalist/publisher? The old chesnut that the "freedom of the press belongs to the owner of the press" (ie. the mechanical device) seems to be taken literally by prosecutors and judges, such that someone publishing on their own website without deriving an income doesn't get the same benefit of the doubt as - say - The Village Voice.

Other than amassing a legal fund with which to defend one's self and create the case law that subsequent writers can enjoy, what are some avenues to generate a legal aura as a member of the 4th Estate? Would it be as simple as making sure a few local cyber cafes have hard copies of the weekly blog digest on the counter? Incorporate as a non-profit?

Why should we ask you? (1)

bigbigbison (104532) | more than 7 years ago | (#16191579)

If citizen journalism is agout citizens doing journalism and not "experts" or "professionals" then why should we ask someone else about citizen journalism?

mo;d down (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16192179)

visit impaired its ME! It's official while the project ultimately, we Share. FreeBSD is [amazingkreskin.com] backward and said I know it sux0rs, GNAA (GAY NIIGER

Why would Reuters contribute? (1)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 7 years ago | (#16192231)

Why would Reuters, which is part of the mainstream press, contribute $100,000 to NewAssignment.net [newassignment.net] ?

News objectivity (1)

slidersv (972720) | more than 7 years ago | (#16192333)

How can we prevent sinking in our close-mindedness if all news would be "filtered" by natural subjectivity?

As an expert on the "future" of Citizen Journalism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16192903)

..how exactly do you become an expert on the future of anything? Do you have a time machine?

Re:As an expert on the "future" of Citizen Journal (1)

packrat2 (686953) | more than 7 years ago | (#16293491)

predicting is easy.... getting it right is tough. a notable trend is that you need to create a NEW orgiazation to get out from under the deadwood of an old. TV stations... before their production got centralized... is a GOOD example. second city TV is a handy one. go ahead, try to predict paradigmn shift in the blogsphere, I dare ya. packrat

Did the ground breaking article ever published? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16194355)

I mean the article that was supposedly written using /. comments back in '99 as linked by OP? Thanks,

What do you think of BrooWaha? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16194515)

What do you think of BrooWaha Los Angeles (http://losangeles.broowaha.com [broowaha.com] )?
It's been launched not long ago and is like a deviantart of journalism. You have your account and submit your work to the newspaper. They almost always publish it if it's not porn, spam, or anything like this.
The more popular your articles are, the more popular you, as an author, become. Popular authors are more likely to reach the headlines with their stories and are given more weight in general in the newspaper.
It's pretty much a mix between digg.com and deviantart.com. The thing seems to work pretty well.

Less sexy beats (1)

vita (62852) | more than 7 years ago | (#16199143)

How would citizen journalism operate on a local level? Is the citizen journalist really going to cover the long-and-boring city council meeting faithfully every week... even though he's not getting paid? Not a sexy beat, but we need to keep an eye on the local clowns, too.
Check for New Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>