Saturday, December 22, 2007

Student Public Journalism on Pilot Online

The Norfolk, Va.-based Virginian Pilot ( has a new section called "student voices," which started this week and will feature stories from a Public Journalism in the Digital Age class at Old Dominion University.

The first story, by ODU student Ashley Jarvis, can be found at

Submitted by Burton St. John

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Defining the Interest Group's mission

About a year ago, an article in the CCJIG newsletter explored the role and goals of the interest group by asking current and former leaders to offer their thoughts on three questions about the practices of civic and citizen journalism.

(Use this link to reach a PDF file of the newsletter with the article: )

The article was part of an ongoing effort by CCJIG to come to a clear articulation of the interest group's purposes, goals and mission. This conversation has been going on for some time, especially in conversations during annual meetings during AEJMC conventions. But closure has been hard to find.

The question has some urgency at the present time, however, because interest groups within AEJMC must petition for renewal every three years, and CCJIG is due to undergo this process in Chicago next summer. The question of CCJIG's unique focus in contrast with other divisions and interest groups within AEJMC is sure to be raised as part of that review.

Such an important question as defining the interest group's identity should not be answered unilaterally by a chair or even by a particular executive board. It's a question that should be answered by the membership at large, and this blog offers the perfect outlet for doing so. So please take part in this vital conversation by answering one or more of the following questions with a comment on this blog entry.

QUESTION 1: In your view, what is the key characteristic that separates civic journalism from other types of journalism?

QUESTION 2: How do civic journalism and citizen/participatory journalism relate to one another? (For instance, are they one-and-the-same? Distinct but overlapping practices or wholly separate practices? Are they variants on a theme, in which case: what's the theme? Are they complementary practices that serve a common goal; in which case, what's the goal?)

QUESTION 3: How can the nature of this relationship of the two practices as described in answers to Question 2 guide the mission and activities of the division?

Getting a conversation among IG members and other interested parties at this time is vital for the ongoing success of this group. Please don't ignore the opportunity to get involved!

Donations fund Minneapolis citizen-J project

The latest wrinkle in covering communities and giving voice to underreported issues or topics that citizens want to read more about is out of Minnesota, where Joel Kramer, former editor of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, is launching an online daily news site funded by donors.The new venture follows the recently unveiled news venture called Pro Publica, a nonprofit investigative reporting project funded by two California philanthropists, Herbert and Marian Sandler, to the tune of $10 million a year.

Here's a link to the Chronicle of Philanthropy article on

These ventures, and others are reportedly to follow, raises interesting questions about the potential influence of the funding source of news gathering and dissemination, in addition to raising the issue of balanced reporting. Does the venture have to only pursue the Sandlers' pet issues? What if the Minnesota donors only want pro-Minnesota coverage? What's this mean for citizen journalism and funding future ventures; is this a worthwhile model to consider?Enter the debate and share your thoughts.

- Submitted by Sue Ellen Christian, posted by Jack Rosenbery

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

CCJIG invites panel proposals for 2008 AEJMC-due Oct 15

September 15, 2007

The Civic and Citizen Journalism Interest Group (CCJIG) invites panel proposals for the 2008 AEJMC conference in Chicago. We need your input to create another meaningful and engaging lineup.

Panel proposals should be sent to Co-Vice Chair Mary Beth Callie via email word attachment, at by October 15.

In the past, CCJIG panels have focused on: citizen media, blogging, civic mapping, community conversations, newsroom projects, legal and ethical issues in civic or citizen journalism, using polls, focus groups and other methods in civic reporting; civic and citizen journalism in a multicultural environment, civic and citizen journalism and new technologies, history/philosophy of civic journalism, and teaching civic and citizen journalism.

Some general directions that emerged from the 2007 conference include:

(1) Defining "civic journalism" and "citizen journalism"--meanings and missions
(2) Evaluating the state and parameters of the field
(3) Teaching civic and citizen journalism
(4) How the changing economics of the newspaper industry are playing a role in development of the citizen journalism movement

I hope that the above ideas will stimulate your thinking. Panel proposals should consist of the following:
Type (i.e., PF&R, Teaching, Research)

Tentative Title

Possible Moderator

Possible Panelists (limit to three so we can work on linking with other interest groups and divisions)

Brief Description

Possible Panel Co-sponsors (divisions or interest groups)

Please follow this format as closely as possible. Consistency is important as proposals will be compiled into a document with those from other divisions and interest groups for programming consideration. Be aware that most panel proposals are revised or expanded to include presenters from another division or interest group. Look for timely topics, and try to keep your pitch relatively general and adaptable.

An example of a previous proposal is available at
(Note that this will take you to a download of a Word document.)

Proposals should be e-mailed as Word attachments to:

Thanks for your time and consideration. I look forward to receiving your proposals.


Mary Beth Callie, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Department of Communication
Regis University, Denver

Friday, September 14, 2007

Project has students subbing for ailing editor/publisher

Good friend Jock Lauterer (founder and emeritus leader of CCJIG's AEJMC colleague group COMJIG) sends along this information, and link, to a project from one of his classes that he calls a "community journalism emergency rapid response" (a.k.a. "the Bucket Brigade") in which students traveled to the little town of Spring Hope an hour east of Chapel Hill to provide content for the beleaguered Spring Hope Enterprise while its veteran editor-publisher, Ken Ripley is recuperating from double-hip replacement this fall.

Story and photos about the project are available at:

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Upcoming Citizen Media Seminars

News of two upcoming citizen media events has reached us, courtesy of our friends at J-Lab.

A Citizen Media Workshop will be held on Oct. 2 in Washington D.C. in conjunction with the APME convention there, and a Citizen Journalism Workshop will take place as part of the Online News Association convention in Toronto, Canada on Oct. 17.

Both are daylong, one-day events. Registration details are available on the J-Lab Web site,

Monday, September 10, 2007

CCJIG 2007-2008 goals established

Officers of the Civic and Citizen Journalism Interest Group have settled upon the following goals for the group in the 2007-2008 year. Commentary is both welcome and invited; use the "add a comment" feature below to weigh in with your thoughts.

These goals grew from discussion among officers at the recent AEJMC convention in Washington and were elaborated upon through a series of e-mail discussions over the past month since the convention ended.

Goal No. 1: Continue the conversation defining civic/public and citizen journalism, their meanings and missions. This blog will be a primary tool for meeting this goal, as will the group's programming at the 2008 convention in Chicago. Look here on the blog regularly for information and commentary about the state of the craft, examples of civic/citizen projects in action, and discussion of CCJIG's organizational mission and roles. The latter will be increasingly important as the group approaches the 2008 convention, when it will need to submit its three-year renewal petition.

Goal No. 2: Enhance the pedagogy of civic and citizen journalism instruction. The blog and convention program also will be tools for this, along with a project to create a compendium of teaching ideas and examples that will be overseen by Teaching Chair Glenn Scott.

Goal No. 3: Enhance the visibility of of civic and citizen journalism scholarship. Research co-chairs Burton St. John and Sue Ellen Christian will be working on a project to update the scholarly resources section of the CCJIG Web site to highlight important recent research, especially by interest group officers and members. CCJIG officers also expressed interest in some sort of special research project to align with the 20th anniversary (in 2010) of James Batten's 1990 address that was a bellwether moment in the citizen journalism movement. Look for further discussion of those plans here on the blog as well.

Goal No. 4: Formally adopt a set of bylaws. This is a piece of unfinished administrative business that the group will address before the triennial renewal next year.

As noted above, comments are welcome. Please weigh in with your thoughts and ideas

Friday, August 31, 2007

New journalism initiative to launch in Minnesota

Longtime CCJIG stalward Ed Lambeth sent this along for inclusion on the blog; it came to him from his University of Missouri colleague Debra Mason in the form of a news release and has been edited somewhat for length. The full version of the release, including a lengthy list of participants for th enew project, can be found at

Also, contact names for anyone interested in learning more about the venture can be found at the end of this posting.
- JR

August 27, 2007

MINNEAPOLIS --, an internet-based daily providing news and insight for Twin Cities and Minnesota readers, will launch later this year.

Joel Kramer, CEO and editor, announced that he has raised $1.1 million in startup funds for the not-for-profit enterprise. Four local families have contributed a combined $850,000, and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, based in Miami, announced a donation of $250,000.

"Communities need news every way they can get it," said Eric Newton, vice president of Knight Foundation's journalism program. "What makes this experiment interesting are its non-profit model and the willingness of such a broad spectrum of the community to give money and time to this effort." will offer exclusive front-page news stories as well as posts, a new format in which professional journalists engage in an informal conversation with readers about what they're learning and what to make of it. Posts will be a bit like blogs, but unlike many blogs, they will be built around original reporting, not just opinions or links to other people’s work., which will publish Monday through Friday, also will offer daily roundups providing perspective on metro, state, national and international news, stories from selected content partners (currently under discussion), commentary from community leaders and experts, and comment from and involvement of readers. MinnPost will be nonpartisan, and all opinion pieces will be signed.

More than 20 Twin Cities journalists, including Pulitzer Prize-winning Pioneer Press reporter and best-selling novelist John Camp and former Star Tribune columnist Doug Grow, have already committed to contributing regularly to, according to managing editor Roger Buoen, former deputy managing editor of the Star Tribune.

In addition to Kramer and Buoen, MinnPost editors will be Corey Anderson, web editor, who was online managing editor of City Pages; Don Effenberger and Casey Selix, news editors, both formerly editors at the Pioneer Press; and Beth Thibodeau, MinnPost in Print editor, formerly an editor at the Star Tribune.

" is all about substantive news for Minnesotans who are intensely interested in the world around them and want more insight and analysis than they’re getting from their media choices today," said Kramer, who served as editor of the Star Tribune in the 1980s and as publisher and president in the 1990s. "It will combine the best of traditional journalism with new forms of newsgathering and storytelling made possible by the Internet. will emphasize original, high-quality content five days a week, plus carefully chosen work from other sources. You can read it online, or in a printable newspaper format, MinnPost in Print."

MinnPost in Print will be published Monday through Friday in 8.5 x 11 format, printable on home and office computers and expected to be available in high-traffic locations over the lunch hour.

For more information, contact Joel Kramer at 612 581-7431, or Larry Meyer, Knight Foundation vice president/communications, at 305-908-2610, email:

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Recent Media Matters program and relevance to Civic/Citizen Journalism

The August 26, 2007 "Media Matters" radio program -- the broadcast hosted by Robert McChesney of the University of Illinois -- featured a fascinating discussion with Geneva Overholser of the Missouri School of Journalism. Overholser, who has a long print journalism career with such publications as the Des Moines Register and the Washington Post, talked at length about two items that have increasingly led to a disconnect between the larger dailies and their communities. Both of the concerns they discussed -- the increasing demand for profits and dysfunctional newsroom attempts to provide objectivity -- are very pertinent. However, my concern with this line of criticism are two: 1) it has been long discussed and often provides no new insights and 2) at times it focuses more on symptoms of newspapers' increasing problems and not so much on the root causes.

What may be one of those root causes? Well, how about entrenched ways of conceptualizing the newsgathering process? By that, I mean that there are certain "protective" ways print newsrooms go about deciding how they will define, research, gather and report news. To me, this is one of the long-standing lessons of the public/civic journalism movement. These concerns about the newsrooms "sociology of work" were pointed out long before the current criticisms about the shrinking of newsrooms, the increasing profit orientation of news operations and the drift of consumers to online news sources. In fact, the press's detached way of looking at the world and then deciding on how to report on it is a significant factor in the legacy media's downturn -- a cautionary note for those who believe that the migration to the online world will be a panacea for journalism's lack of relevance to many Americans. What needs fuller exploration, by watchdogs, journalists and academics, is how journalism's protective stance has undermined its pertinence to communities across the country.

There is no better example of a "fortress journalism" (a term popularized by Steven Smith of the Spokane Spokesman-Review and others) mentality than the almost-visceral hostility the St. Louis Journalism Review has displayed against public/civic journalism. In fact, when the publication's editor, Ed Bishop, recently wrote his farewell column, he citied the publication's resistance against the movement as one of his proudest moments. I couldn't resist the opportunity to write to them on how this particular proclamation spoke volumes about the troubles of both the current printed press and press criticism.

Another kind of bishop's tale
Burton St. John III.
St. Louis
Journalism Review 37.294 (March 2007): p5(1).

It's a bit disheartening when a respected observer like Ed Bishop, in singling out one of SJR's biggest accomplishments during his tenure, chooses to belabor how the publication successfully fought against the public-journalism movement. In spending about seven paragraphs on this subject, I couldn't avoid being impressed that his maintaining that the SJR had "won" had a hollow ring.

What was gained in the victory, especially for the contemporary daily
newspaper? Let's see, major dailies are losing circulation every year (as has been the habit for several decades now), newsrooms are facing continual cuts in resources as ownership profit motives prevail and surveys consistently reveal that younger Americans get most of theirnews from sources like the Internet, TV news and even the Daily Show.

What a reassuring win for SJR. Granted, Bishop is correct that the public
journalism movement was fraught with problems, but the one that I have been the most intrigued with over the years is the one that he, and other working press critics, won't own up to. It's hinted at right there in Bishop's own barbs toward the professors and funding organizations that championed the movement. Such rhetoric has been going on for years from press detractors, and it all points to suspicion (often justifiable) that outsiders with an agenda will get into the newsroom and muck up the integrity and credibility of the news workers. This defensive prism(which has been around for about 80 years) that many journalists used to evaluate public journalism is a greatly underappreciated dynamic.
Why? Because, rather than question the conventions at play in your workplace, it's so much easier to point at how the interlopers just don't get it, and then resist.

And who really benefited from that resistance? I would maintain that the
current crop of news owners see rewards from the movement's failures. After all, engaging the public to find out what they see as news is much more costly than continuing with such conventions as covering spats between local officials, devoting stories to celebrity mishaps or chasing down accounts of bizarre criminal behavior. Since these servings of "news" don't relate to many Americans' daily lives, no wonder newspapers are having trouble being relevant to their local communities.

At its core, despite its failings, misdirections and mistakes, the
public-journalism movement advocated that journalism worked better when it connected with, and included, citizen voices. Newspapers, in particular, have the resources, talent and inclination to provide these kinds of stories. But it only happens in spurts, and it is waning. So, Bishop wants to celebrate an SJR victory? In light of all this, it appears a shallow proclamation indeed.

Burton St. John III,
Assistant Professor, Communications
Old Dominion

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

COMJIG minutes

Check out the minutes of the membership meeting of CCJIG's colleague AEJMC group, the Community Journalism Interest Group, posted in COMJIG's blog at

Members who were in attendance in Washington will recall that the two groups met jointly for about 45 minutes before separting for individual business meetings. The COMJIG minutes begin with a summary of that joint discussion.

Limited interested in a participatory project

Below is a question for discussion; it would be great to get a comment-chain going (which was one of the purposes of starting a blog to go along with the listserv and Web site for CCJIG).

What does everyone make of a situation when a participatory project -- in this case one sponsored by a good-sized metro newspaper -- draws the involvement of only a small number of participants? In some respects, this is another way of asking whether the number of people who involve themselves with a project should be a metric of its success.

Here's what prompts the question. In addition to The Loop for college students (see Aug. 21 blog entry below), another citizen-participant project of the Rochester (NY) Democrat and Chronicle is a site, designed for men to post and discuss information of interest to them. It was launched just a few weeks ago as a companion site to, which the Democrat and Chronicle introduced a few months ago to serve the interest of women, particularly mothers.

Rocmen has some hyperlocal, user-generated content, a fantasy football blog written by two Democrat and Chronicle staff writers, and some picked-up content from the paper's main site , especially related to events and entertainment and also youth sports, rec sports and pro sports (the NFL Buffalo Bills hold their training camp in Rochester). The site also has discussion forums, which are the area of particular interest for this question.

The forums seem to be the private sandbox of a handful of people who post regularly, and practically no one else. The profiles of forum users report an interesting tidbit about each contributor: how many posts he has accounted for, and the percentage of the total on the site. One person has accounted for nearly 19 percent of the total posts in the forum ; a couple of others are in the 1o to 12 percent range. So about five people are responsible for 50 or 60 percent of the total posts in the forum. This is great for them, of course. There's no question the site is providing a forum that didn't exist before it was started a few months ago, and certain individuals are using it to add their voices to a community conversation they likely didn't have a way to do before. This is certainly a laudable goal of a citizen media site, and by this standard rocmen is succeeding.

But back to the question at hand: is it fair to presume that a major purpose of a site like this, especially sponsored by a major metro paper, is to draw wide participation, men of different ages and interests from around the Rochester area and beyond, and to generate widespread contributions and commentary? And if the contributions come from only a handful of users, is the site a "success," or not?


Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Rochester (NY) paper launches citizen media project for college students

The Rochester (N.Y.) Democrat and Chronicle and a partnership of seven area colleges have launched a new citizen media project created by college students, for college students. The site went live on Monday Aug. 20.

Called “The Loop,”, the site is overseen by a Web editor at the paper with a staff of seven content editors, one from each college, with a mission of portraying college life from a student perspective. The content editors are serving paid, for-credit internships at the newspaper.

Each college also will have a faculty advisor and two other primary student contributors, a content coordinator responsible for organizing campus submissions and a “backpack journalist” creating multimedia packages for the site. These contributors will receive a small stipend and academic credit.

The colleges involved so far are the State University Colleges at Brockport and Geneseo, St. John Fisher, Nazareth, Roberts Wesleyan, Rochester Institute of Technology and Monroe Community College; the paper says it plans to expand to others.

The Democrat and Chronicle’s report on the site’s launch can be found at:

(Author’s disclosure: I am the faculty advisor for my institution, St. John Fisher College, and my daughter is one the content editors for one of the other partner schools.)

Monday, August 13, 2007

This is the new blog of the activities of the Civic and Citizen Journalism Interest Group of AEJMC (the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication).