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