Thursday, December 18, 2008

Instructions to submit to AEJMC

Today AEJMC published instructions for paper submitters. Here's the Uniform Paper Call for the Boston convention for your reading pleasure.

If you plan to direct your submission to CCJIG, here's our call, to be read in conjunction with the instructions. I look forward to all the good research!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

AEJMC Boston convention hotel open for booking

AEJMC has opened a block at the Sheraton Boston Hotel, the venue of its 92nd annual convention August 5-8.

The hotel block will be available until July 3.

If you plan to attend you may want to reserve a room early: Boston's hotels can be famously expensive!

"Who will adopt the orphan news?"

Leonard Witt at

What is it that subscribers to The New York Times really pay for each day? The paper without the news on it is worthless. At the same time, consumers refuse to pay for news served up on the Internet. So right now as a consumer product, news without paper is also worthless. People only seem to be willing to pay for two worthless commodities when they are combined into one. In the case of The New York Times they pay $10 a week, $500 a year. Strange isn’t it.

In the past, you could argue that people also wanted the ads, but you won’t be able to make that argument much longer. Ads and news are decoupling. News and paper are decoupling. You will still have ads, news and paper, just not together any more.

No one wants empty paper, so you can push that aside. So we are left with ads and news. There will be plenty of places to get your ads. So no worry there. Now we have that orphan news.

Without proper nurturing that little orphan will wilt away. Who will adopt it? Who will nurture it? Who will help it stand on its own?

Monday, December 8, 2008

Invitation to review papers for CCJIG

If you are a CCJIG member, here's a quick update for you from AEJMC's winter meeting in Louisville, Kentucky, over the weekend.

1. Each submitted paper for the 2009 convention in Boston will get three reviewers. Our group’s tradition has been that officers, who are not permitted to submit, volunteer to review instead. In addition, I invite any of you with no plans to submit a paper to please consider reviewing: Contact either of our research co-chairs, Burton St. John ( or Glenn Scott ( Graduate students cannot be reviewers.

Only as a last option would I like to solicit reviewers from outside of our membership. If recent years are an indication, we should expect to have nearly two dozen submissions.

2. I would like to remind potential submitters that, per AEJMC rules of blind review, any author-identifying information in the submission would automatically disqualify the paper. Regardless of whether an accepted paper ends up presented in a high-density, poster or regular session, it would have gone through the exact same review process.

3. We will aim for a 50 percent acceptance rate. The only criterion of acceptance will be a paper's quality as decided by the multiple blind reviewers.

4. January 30 is the deadline to ask for speaker funding, if you’d like to invite a non-AEJMC keynoter for any panel. Approved reimbursement would cover the speaker's coach-class airfare, airport transfer, hotel room, and meal expenses. First you'd have to fill out a speaker funding request form (pdf) available on the AEJMC site.

Nikhil Moro, Ph.D.
Chair, Civic & Citizen Journalism Interest Group

CCJIG's program for the 2009 Boston convention

I am happy to report that the Civic & Citizen Journalism Interest Group was able accommodate nearly all of the panels proposed for Boston, thanks to vice-chair Mary Beth Callie’s diligence.

The process depends on lining up co-sponsors for panels –– we got some excellent collaborators. CCJIG’s Boston convention program:

a. AEJMC Pre-convention, Tuesday August 4.

i. 1-4 p.m. (updated time!), “Citizen Journalism and Media Literacy in the Mumbai Terrorist Attacks” (CCJIG and COMJIG). This conference/workshop will bring together scholars of media literacy and citizen/community journalism to critically examine the practices and semiotics of south Mumbai’s blogger-reporters during the terrorist strikes of November 27-29, 2008. The goal is to highlight some key critical skills for audiences of citizen journalism to analyze and evaluate citizen messages for bias, accuracy, and fairness in times of crisis, in order to facilitate both an educated citizenry and high quality citizen journalism. Event contact: Nikhil Moro,

ii. 4-10 p.m (updated time!), “Journalism Jobs in a Digital Age.” This conference will address questions such as: Will journalism students, will journalists, find work in the future, and if so, will it be in traditional forms of journalism or in emerging or altogether new venues? Where precisely will the jobs be? And what skills will our students need? How will they be paid for the work they do? What will the journalism ecosystem be like? What will be the challenges to producing ethically sound, high quality journalism? What instructional adjustments must be made? The conference will be developed by the Robert D. Fowler Distinguished Chair in Communication (currently held by Leonard Witt) and the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University. Event contact: Leonard Witt,

b. AEJMC Convention, Wednesday August 5.

i. 8.15-9.45 a.m., “Has the Civic/Citizen Movement Brought Journalism Full Circle?” (CCJIG and History). America’s earliest printer-editors, such as Benjamin Harris, James Franklin and Benjamin Franklin, who lived in Boston, were apparently community activists more than they were editors. They were not J-school trained in reporting, pagination, or ethics. But they invariably had a finger on their readers’ pulse, an ear close to their audience's chest. Today, as America’s loftiest legacy media organizations increasingly embrace a YouTubization –– harnessing the collective intelligence of their former audiences –– to keep the news accurate, cheap and exciting, is it an indication that journalism has come full circle from the era of Harris and the Franklins? If yes, in what ways? Those are the questions this research panel will examine. Panel contact: Nikhil Moro,

ii. 10-11.30 a.m., “Helping Rural Journalists Better Serve Their Communities” (COMJIG and CCJIG). This PFR panel will explore university-based training programs and projects designed to help rural journalists better serve their communities. Several could become prototypes for programs across the country. Panel contact: Elizabeth Hansen,

iii. 11.45 a.m.-1.15 p.m., “Reinventing Journalism: Anatomy of a One-Year Applied Field Experiment” (CCJIG and COMJIG). This PFR panel will discuss the one-year Representative Journalism field experiment in Northfield, MN, as seen through the lens of Leonard Witt, who conceived the idea, Shayla Tiel-Stern, who observed it as a researcher, Bonnie Obremski, who worked as the journalist/fellow, and Griff Wigley, who participated as a community member. Panel contact: Leonard Witt,

iv. 5-6.30 p.m., “Journalists and Law Enforcement: Rights versus Security” (CCJIG and Law & Policy). This research panel will discuss how the tension between law enforcement authorities and the press has significant concerns for the development of both the practical and theoretical development of citizen-focused journalism in the United States. Panel contact: Burton St. John,

c. AEJMC Convention, Thursday August 6.

i. 8.15-9.45 a.m. Refereed research paper session, with presentations of four or five of the submitted papers accepted after blind review.

ii. 1.30-3 p.m. Scholar-to-Scholar session, with presentations of six to eight of the submitted papers accepted after blind review.

iii. 6.45-8.15 p.m. Joint meeting of CCJIG and COMJIG members until 7.30 p.m., followed by a separate meeting of CCJIG members to elect officers for 2009-10. Finally, all depart for an optional off-site social.

d. AEJMC Convention, Friday August 7.

i. 12.15-1.30 p.m., J-Lab Luncheon Panel on “Civic News Networks: Collaboration vs. Competition?” (CCJIG, CoA, and COMJIG). This PFR panel will explore whether “scoop” is disappearing from the vernacular of newsrooms. As a response to shrinking newsrooms, costly Associated Press fees, and an emerging culture of collaboration and participatory media, regional news organizations around the country are starting to build innovative consortiums for sharing content on a statewide or regular basis. Participants see it as a win-win: Securing additional feet on the street, broader distribution of their content, less “me, too” duplication of reporting. How is the public served? And can the public participate? Panel contact: Jan Schaefer,

ii. 1.45-3.15 p.m., “Common Health, Commonwealth: Public Understanding, Problem-solving, and Action” (CCJIG and Newspaper). This PFR panel will examine journalistic, nonprofit, and governmental efforts to inform and educate the American public about healthcare reform at the state and national levels. Panelists will focus on coverage of mandated health insurance in Massachusetts, State Children’s Health Insurance Program expansion (SCHIP) in Colorado, and national healthcare reform during the presidential campaign. Panel contact: Mary Beth Callie, mcallie@regis@edu.

iii. 3.30-5 p.m., “The Journalism Academy and the News Media’s Quest for a Digital-Age Business Model: Who Speaks for Ethics and the Public Good?” (CCJIG and Media Ethics). This PFR panel will explore the educational, professional, and ethical challenges of the digital era. Panelists will examine whether the journalism academy, frequently in tandem with other academic disciplines, can and/or should spire to a significant measure of influence on the design, values, goals, priorities, and direction of mainline and alternative media in the digital age. Panel contact: Ed Lambeth,

e. AEJMC Convention, Saturday August 8.

i. 1.30-3 p.m., “World View: International Efforts to Teach Civic and Citizen Journalism” (CCJIG and International Communication; thanks to Community College Journalism Association for the donation of a half-chip!). This teaching panel will explore the theories and skills that are being taught by journalism schools and nonprofit groups, outside the United States, which have launched efforts to teach civic or citizen journalism. Panel contact: Jeff South,

Boston, here we come!

Nikhil Moro, Ph.D.
Chair, Civic & Citizen Journalism Interest Group

We are the largest

Vice-chair Mary Beth Callie and I attended AEJMC’s mid-winter meeting in Louisville, Kentucky, this weekend.

While in Louisville I made sure to check out the famed Fourth Street.

And yes, I visited the Ali Center: Muhammad Ali was, after all, my sporting hero during much of high school. (Not that I could box to save my life!)

Ali may well have been "the greatest," but I am no less proud to announce that we, the Civic & Citizen Journalism Interest Group, are now the largest:

CCJIG has emerged as AEJMC’s largest interest group in 2008-09. We have 116 registered members of whom 57 are female; six identify themselves as African-American, two as Asian-American, and twelve as International. Kimberly Bissell, the Council of Divisions chair, made the announcement Friday evening.

The status reflects our growing ability to decipher the many challenges of practicing journalism in a quickly transforming media firmament.

Shortly I will post the details of CCJIG's program for the 2009 Boston convention.

Nikhil Moro, Ph.D.
Chair, Civic & Citizen Journalism Interest Group

Monday, December 1, 2008

The missing link

Here's one of those embarassing cyber stories -- I lost the link to this blog shortly after the convention. Last week I mentioned to Doug Fisher in CJIG that I hadn't heard from the CCJ folks in ages. And then I remembered the blog.

The upshot is that I will read through and see what I missed, but someone should let me know if you are waiting for something from me.

I hate to say this, but blogs are killing me. My media overload means I increasingly skip visits to blogs and sites and instead wait for an email. I'm not sure what that means for the genre.


Position in Digital Journalism available at Old Dominion

The Departments of Communication and English at Old Dominion University invite immediate applications for a joint-position in Digital Journalism at the rank of Assistant Professor (tenure-track).

Successful candidates will hold a Ph.D. in Journalism or related disciplines, and have scholarly or applied expertise in digital journalism with promise for curricular leadership in this subject area. Work experience in digital journalism and/or multimedia production skills are preferred. Candidates should demonstrate exceptional promise as researchers, be committed to undergraduate and graduate teaching, and be willing to participate in university/college/departmental service activities.

Send a letter of application that addresses the position, a curriculum vitae, a sample publication, and the names and contact information of three references to: Digital Journalism Search Committee, 3000 Batten Arts and Letters, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Virginia 23529-0087.

Women and minorities are encouraged to apply. Old Dominion University is an equal opportunity, affirmative action employer and requires compliance with the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986.

Call for research papers: AEJMC's Boston convention of August 2009

The Civic and Citizen Journalism Interest Group (CCJIG) invites research paper submissions for the 2009 convention of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication to be held in Boston, MA, from August 5 to 9, 2009.

Papers must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. on April 1, 2009, in accordance with all requirements of AEJMC and its uniform paper call and electronic submission process. More information is available here.

Papers submitted will be eligible for separate faculty and student top paper awards of $151.

In general, CCJIG is interested in research that examines the emergence, practice, sustenance and/or teaching of civic/citizen journalism.

Suggested paper topics include: Citizen/civic journalism in the 2008 campaign season, citizen media, blogging, civic mapping, community conversations, newsroom projects, legal and ethical issues in civic/citizen journalism, crowdsourcing versus traditional "gatekeeper" journalism, civic/citizen journalism in a multicultural environment, civic/citizen journalism and new technologies, history/philosophy of civic/citizen journalism, the changing newspaper industry economy and its effect on the development of civic/citizen journalism movements, media convergence and civic/citizen journalism, the missions and meanings of "civic journalism" and/or "citizen journalism," teaching civic/citizen journalism, and using polls, focus groups and other methods in civic reporting.

Please direct any questions to CCJIG Research Co-Chairs Burton St. John ( or Glenn Scott (

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Some thoughts on citizen journalism and Mumbai

Oh, what a Thanksgiving break it is proving to be.

As I sit in this oversize chair, looking out of a bay window at the Michigan snow gently drifting from the cold sky and into the gray woods, the world seems so beautiful.

But within, I feel a deep sense of hurt.
Mumbai has suffered what Bruce Riedel of the Brookings Institution calls "a dramatic demonstration that the global jihadist syndicate based in Pakistan is still as deadly as ever."

Nearly 200 innocents have been killed in that warm, hospitable city, which was my home for more than three years in the late 1990s. Many of the victims are tourists, including 19 from foreign nations such as the United States.

The timeless Indian classic, Taittiriya Upanishad, celebrates tourists, or guests, as akin to the gods: Atithi devo bhava. If only terrorists read the classics.

Oh, maybe they do. Just different ones.

As for me, for four days now, I have been a veritable prisoner of hi-def television and hi-res laptop.
It has been a high, a somewhat deprecating one. Nostalgia about my own years in the newsroom consumes me: Deadlines, bylines, leads. Those were the days.

The 24-hour news market –
CNN, MSNBC, Fox – offers live footage punctuated with relays by Indian broadcast journalists Rajdeep Sardesai (CNN-IBN), Barkha Dutt (NDTV), Arnab Goswami (Times Now) and others.

I notice a special place for citizen journalists in the coverage. For instance Dina Mehta is an early interviewee on CNN. Arun Shanbhag finds mention in the New York Times.

And let it be a matter of record: I am now officially a fan of Twitter. At one time Thursday I was counting a hundred "tweets" a minute! All live. All from south Mumbai. All from the heart. (Some from the mind too.)

Twitter's micro-posts, each of 140 characters or less, have intensely reported the action, particularly events at the Taj Mahal Hotel and Leopold Cafe (which used to be, along with Kailash Parbat near Nariman House, my favorite hangout in Colaba), at the Oberoi on Marine Drive, at Cama & Albless Hospital on Mahapalika Marg. I see that Mathew Ingram has declared Twitter to be "a source of journalism." At one time the Indian government is reported to have called for a lull in Twitter's live updates in order to protect the commandos' strategy.
As Forbes puts it, Mumbai is "Twitter's moment."

But Twitter is not the only star platform. Vinukumar Ranganathan's shots on Flickr offer some of the finest early pictures from south Mumbai. The bloggers at Mumbai Help offer realtime comments of community, condolence and consolidation. Others, such as Gaurav Mishra, offer aggregations of the best of the blog action.

Then there are the networking sites. Wikipedia's page for the events reminds me of the super-hit toy poodle pup which grows before your very eyes. GroundReport boasts multiple amateur reporters who are paid by the traffic their stories bring. NowPublic, of the "crowd powered media" tag, has some pretty impressive multimedia coverage. So does CNN's iReport ("Unedited. Unfiltered. News.") There are other sorts of victims too: The netizen demand seemed to have crashed Mahalo’s servers Sunday.

Mumbai's bloggers seem to have leaped from the footnotes into the narrative.

I'm no security expert but Mumbai’s terrorist attacks suggest that, in large countries, pursuing national security via centralized command may not serve dense urban areas susceptible to guerrilla tactics.
Besides, as Newsweek reports, Mumbai’s authorities clearly “flunked the intelligence test.” Ratan Tata, whose company owns the Taj hotel, says Mumbai has little “crisis infrastructure” in place.

So here’s another thought. Do bloggers byting their observations serve as the eyes and ears of the citizenry? Are bloggers who use their homes as newsrooms, their computers as teleprinters, and the Web as preferred medium, veritably offering themselves up as intelligence assets? If so why not use them as such? After all bloggers constitute, to use Stephen Cooper's lexicon, a “fifth estate” – which self-respecting blogger considers himself or herself to be merely "audience"? Mumbai's intelligence authorities should seriously consider vetting chosen bloggers for their potential to disseminate information; perhaps just pay closer attention to certain citizen reports which might help preempt future attacks.

If "eternal vigilance is the price of liberty," as Jawaharlal Nehru warned seven decades back, then roping in motivated, networked bloggers with a nose for news might be a common sense way to gather intelligence.
Besides, doing so might offer an innovative check on state power by substituting the need for any new federal intelligence agency who wants more prying, interfering, bureaucracies anyway?

At this time what soothes me is –
strangely – an analysis Salman Rushdie, the clever writer who survived a death fatwā, offered at Central Michigan last month: “There’s no such thing as security. There are only different levels of insecurity. The moment you accept that, it sets you free.”

Nikhil Moro, Ph.D.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The panel pitch deadline is upon us

A quick reminder that today's when to send in your panel proposal for AEJMC 2009. Please see CCJIG programming lead Mary Beth Callie's call of September 6 below.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Journalism comes full circle with civic/citizen movement

Boston, where AEJMC will convene in 2009, is where it all started 318 years ago.

In Boston, arguably, was America’s earliest journalism practiced. In Boston lived the earliest printer-editors, two Benjamins and two Franklins: Benjamin Harris’ quirky, chatty Publick Occurrences Both Foreign and Domestick (1690), of which only one issue was ever published, was a veritable coffeehouse in newsprint. James/Ben Franklin’s wry New-England Courant (1721-23) frequently offered Ben’s pseudonymous byline, “Silence Dogood.”

The early printers were citizens first, community activists second, and editors if at all. They weren't J-school trained in any nuance of reporting, pagination or ethics (why, Ben Franklin published his own letters as if sent by readers).

Their work was not to be measured by Siebert’s theories or Hutchins’ norms.

But in all of American journalism’s history – the Revolution, the penny decades, the Civil War, Pulitzer/Hearst, the muckrakers/Progressives, the age of broadcasting – if successful editors had a common denominator, it was a finger on the readers' pulse.

A function of that finger on the pulse is the reporter’s craving to connect to an audience, to decide the news, to influence public opinion. It's the craving that makes journalism; the rest is literature.

Any surprise there’s a reflection of democracy in journalism?

But does journalism’s quid pro quo with democracy offer a frame to decipher the newspaper industry’s current travails? Perhaps institutionalization shields the journalist from the reader’s pulse? Perhaps pulse journalism can by itself guarantee profits? Or trump sound economics? – even if the one really a subset of the other? If news and advertising are the two sides of a piece of toast which side is buttered? Ah, that last was a joke.

From small-town Lansing State Journal to venerated New York Times, the urban newspaper's holy grail lies in finding a structural cure for falling circulations (ibuprofen won't cure a Migraine).

Can civic/citizen journalism offer that grail?

Look at the expectations. From the Times to CNN, America’s loftiest media organizations are welcoming the obscurest iReporter, the lowliest blogger, for his or her proactive journalism, a phenomenon which J.D. Lasica has classified in some detail. They are clearly trying to touch communities – in a reflection of David Perry’s call to use journalism to enhance social capital, or Buzz Merritt’s cry for a public journalism.

Perry's and Merritt's work, of course, is too famous to elaborate here.

As is Philip Meyer's call for newspapers to focus on a "leadership audience." Or Leonard Witt's pitch for a “representative” journalism, the idea of using not organizational but communal resources to subsidize the cost of journalism. And Jeff Jarvis' now ancient postulate: “Don't give the people control of media, and you will lose.”

Clearly, scholars and journalists alike are feeling a sharp excitement. Inevitably, it seems, America's legacy media must accept that a YouTubization – allowing the collective intelligence of the “former audience” (to use Dan Gillmor's gravid lexicon) to distill the news – is the sexy new way to keep news accurate, cheap and exciting.

Has journalism come full circle from the era of Harris and the Franklins, or what?

Nikhil Moro, Ph.D.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Invitation to join AEJMC panel proposal

Burton St. John of Old Dominion University asked if I would blog the following announcement. Please send any response to Burt by October 7.

"Have you been noticing how mainstream, independent and citizen journalists have been starting to run into more problems with law enforcement? For example, during the St. Paul Republican National Convention, police actively investigated, detained and/or arrested journalists as diverse as an AP photographer, three members of indymedia outlet Democracy Now and citizen journalists from the group Eyewitness Video.

"I am putting together a panel proposal tentatively called 'Law Enforcement and Journalists: Security versus Rights' for next year's AEJMC conference which runs Aug 5-8 in Boston. If you're researching the tensions between law enforcement and the press please feel free to email me ( by October 7. Please provide a short synopsis of your proposed presentation. As a board member of the Civic and Citizen Journalism Group, which would sponsor this panel, I am especially interested in seeing suggested panel items that touch upon what these evolving tensions mean for journalism's assertions of its perceived rights in society today, and what implications the developments may hold for journalism's assertions in the future. -- Dr. Burton St. John III."

Nikhil Moro, Ph.D.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Call for panel proposals for 2009 AEJMC convention in Boston (due by Oct. 15)

6 September 2008

The Civic & Citizen Journalism Interest Group (CCJIG) invites proposals for engaging panels for the 2009 AEJMC convention in Boston.

Please email your panel proposal to Co-Vice Chair Mary Beth Callie as a Word attachment by October 15.

Past panels have focused on blogging, civic mapping, community conversations, newsroom projects, legal/ethical issues in civic or citizen journalism, using Internet polling, focus groups and other methods in civic reporting, practicing civic and citizen journalism in a multicultural environment, using new technologies, the history/philosophy of civic journalism, and teaching civic and citizen journalism.

The 2008 convention in Chicago continued to hone the direction of the field. Panel proposals for 2009 may address, but are not limited to, the following broad themes:

1. Citizen/civic journalism in the 2008 presidential campaigns

2. Media convergence as a catalyst of citizen journalism

3. Emerging models in practice, sustenance, and teaching of civic/citizen journalism

4. Collective intelligence (crowdsourcing) vs. information gateways ( traditional gatekeeper role of press).

In general, address topics which are relevant to current discussions in journalism, politics, technology, democracy, or philosophy. Panels addressing issues of cultural and racial diversity are encouraged.

Your panel proposal should mention the following components in order: Type (i.e., PF&R, Teaching, Research), a tentative title, a possible moderator, the possible panelists (limit to three so we can work on linking with other interest groups and divisions), a brief description of the panel, and possible co-sponsors (divisions or interest groups). Please follow this format as closely as possible.

Selected proposals are compiled into a single document, with proposals from other divisions and interest groups, in order to be considered for c0-sponsorship and scheduling. Many will later be revised or expanded as part of the joint planning process.

A sample proposal is available at

We look forward to your proposals!

Mary Beth Callie, Ph.D.
Co-Vice Chair, Civic & Citizen Journalism Interest Group

Friday, September 5, 2008

Transformation, emergence and norms: The promise of another great year

As CCJIG's incoming head for 2008-09, my big, big welcome to you.

What a year it promises to be! An engaging, and in many ways historic, presidential campaign is upon us. Emerging technologies have gone beyond "disrupting" newsrooms/studios to set norms for journalism practice/assessment. Convergence, of technologies and of skills, is the great new catalyst. Models of sustaining civic and citizen journalism are evolving as quickly as ever. The mass media's buffeting by gales of transformation continues, in business models and in consumer patronage. Journalism programs are increasingly using classrooms to address the pedagogy/practice of civic and citizen journalism. The collective intelligence is taking on traditional gatekeeping roles like never before.

Clearly, our field is growing in several directions all at an unprecedented pace. It is as relevant to democracy, to the media industries, as ever. And, as Sue Ellen Christian's bibliography evidenced, the scholars are catching up. More books, more research, more deliberation. Folks, we have a movement going!

In a day or two CCJIG will publish, on this blog and in other forums, our annual call for panel proposals. Please send your proposal in. Let's plan a stimulating agenda for Boston in 2009, as we did for Chicago in 2008.

As I take charge I would like to express deep gratitude to Jack Rosenberry, the outgoing head, for his captaincy in 2007-08. Jack's eye for detail might make him something of a legend if a history of our group is ever written. I'd like to also acknowledge the other outgoing officers for their enthusiastic service.

Let's keep the conversation going!

Nikhil Moro, Ph.D.
Chair, Civic & Citizen Journalism Interest Group, 2008-09

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Pre-Con Videos Available Online

A video of the pre-convention presentation on the "Past, Present and Future of Civic Journalism," produced by our friends and hosts at Columbia College of Chicago, is now available online. The link to view it is:

This presentation was made Tuesday Aug. 5 at Columbia College, and includes three very interesting and informative panels featuring leading scholars in the fields of civic and citizen journalism.

Many thanks once again go to Barbara Iverson, Suzanne McBride and all of the folks at Columbia for their warm welcome and outstanding assistance in making their campus and facilities available to us, and for producing this video.

Monday, August 11, 2008

CCJIG Meeting Report -- Chicago Convention

Minutes for the CCJIG Annual Members’ Meeting

Date: Thursday, August 7, 2008

During AEJMC annual convention in Chicago, Ill.

7:45 p.m.-meeting called to order by Jack Rosenberry, outgoing chair

People in attendance: Jack Rosenberry, Kirsten Johnson, Glenn Scott, Burton St. John, Jeff South, Len Witt, Jeanette Foreman, Clyde Bentley, Mary Beth Callie, Jeff Neely, Andrea Breemer Frantz, Sue Ellen Christian, Cheryl Gibbs. Each gave a brief introduction of himself/herself.

Election of officers

Nikhil Moro, Central Michigan: Chair

Mary Beth Callie, Regis: Vice-Chair

Glenn Scott, Elon/Burton St. John, Old Dominion: Research

Jeff South, Virginia Commonwealth: Teaching/Webmaster

Clyde Bentley, Missouri: PF&R

Kirsten Johnson, Elizabethtown: Secretary

Need to send out a call for a co vice-chair


Renewal Petition-yes, we’ve been renewed

$4,600 in our account

2008 accomplishments included good slate of convention programming, approval of bylaws and construction of bibliography

New Business:

Dues will remain at $10.00

-Len-motion, Andrea-second

Motion approved

This year there were no top paper awards given due to notification about them inadvertently being left out of the paper call. Incoming research chairs were asked to make sure that next year’s call includes information about a top paper award given to both a faculty and graduate student paper. Motion to increase the top paper awards for each category to $150 was approved. Winner of the top graduate student paper also gets complimentary conference registration from AEJMC.

Motion to bring back the plaques given to paper winners and former chairs was approved. All future chairs will receive plaques, and a plaque will be given to Jack for his service this year.

Panel ideas: Not too early to start thinking about these!

New Initiatives:

Clean up the bibliography

Joint venture between the Community and Civic and Citizen Journalism interest groups to disseminate research to industry, as discussed by the two groups together before the formal members’ meetings started. How we do this will be an ongoing discussion on the blog.

Teaching ideas posted on a Web site

General Discussion “For the Good of the Order”:

Membership seems to be holding steady. It stands at 107, up 15% over three years

Is there a way to post the papers that were presented at the conference online or link to them?

How can we promote the division more effectively? New member breakfasts—hand out a pamphlet? Link from pjnet?

Think about putting our call for papers on the graduate student listserv.

Participate in the mid-winter event?

Think about a special 2010 event

8:50-p.m. Meeting adjourned.

Submitted by Kirsten Johnson, Secretary

Friday, July 25, 2008

Virtual Community or Private Club?

I've blogged before about the efforts of my hometown newspaper, the Rochester (NY) Democrat and Chronicle, to promote citizen journalism on its Web site. (See archived blog entry from March 14, 2008.) In my judgment, the editors* are sincere in their efforts to use the Web site to build a virtual community that supports and enhances the "real world" community.
(*Disclosure note: the top editors of this paper and leaders of this effort are friends and former colleagues, as I worked at this paper for more than 20 years full and part time.)

But I noticed something recently regarding audience reaction that makes me wonder whether the development of an online community supportive of the geographic one is really happening with regard to one of the tools the paper hopes will accomplish this -- the threaded message board forums.

Since the D&C relaunched the site, I've been regularly reading and occasionally participating in the forums. One thing that stood out was the large number of "regulars" among the participants. So one night recently I did a quick study of the frequent posters and their contributions, and came to some surprising conclusions. The forum area, a Gannett template using software called Pluck, conveniently reports total number of threads and posts in each forum area, and also reports stats with each user's avatar about their most recent post and total number of posts. That provided the data needed.

On the evening I did the analysis (July 17, 2008), the total number of postings since the March re-launch was slightly more than 10,000 (10,356 to be precise) in 42 forums. The individual forum totals ranged from around 4,100 posts in the "Open Forum" (where threads of any topic may be started) to zero posts in some of them. The forums devoted to individual communities are notably under-used; among the 14 devoted to Monroe County towns most have only a handful of threads and at most a few dozen posts, sometimes months old. Two forums dedicated to neighboring rural counties have total postings in the single digits.

But what was really interesting was the user analysis. By going through the most popular threads and looking at the most-frequent posters, I compiled a list of what I believe to be the "top 20" users based on total number of postings. (Disclosure note no. 2: that's not based on an exhaustive review, but I believe it to be reliable. In other words, in my quick review of the forums I may have missed one or two individuals who belong in the "top 20." But if I did that wouldn't change the numbers; if anything, it would make the results MORE top-heavy.)

Among these frequent posters, the top three accounted for nearly a QUARTER of the total postings. Together just three pepole tallied 2,481 postings out of the 10,356, or 24 percent. Notably, these three know each other and a great many of their posts are basically conversations among themselves. Two are friends -- a couple, actually -- and the third is an antagonist whose postings frequently are insults directed toward those two or rebuttals of insults they have made against him.

Working down the list, the "top 10" posters (including these three and seven others) accounted for about 40 percent of the posts -- 4,228 out of 10,356. Just 20 frequent posters accounted for more than HALF the total -- 5,337 out of 10,356, or 53.5 percent. I was, frankly, surprised that it was that heavily skewed.

The goal of setting up forums is to provide a community "conversational commons." And 10,000 entries since early March averages out to more than 500 a week, nearly 80 a day. Taken at face-value, those numbers seem to be reasonable indicators of good community conversations developing. And some of the forums are explicitly linked to off-line communities of interest, including area oenophiles and young professionals, and many conversations there are specifically tied in to offline community activities such as meetings and events. These are very explicit efforts to support the offline community with the communication tools of the online community, and something the paper is very committed to encouraging.

Also, the forums are not the only place citizens can partiicpate on the D&C's site. The paper has a number of designated community bloggers whose blogs appear on the same page with several staff blog. Any registered user also can maintain a blog, and most-recent entries are featured on the same page as those staff and community bloggers. An editors' blog allows readers to register questions and concerns about coverage and many stories have online chats associated with them where readers can comment separately from the general forums area.

But as this drilling-down into the numbers indicates, among the general forums only a tiny fraction of the user community is actually accounting for a large proportion of the activity, creating the potential for conversations to get lost in the "noise" generated by a huge number of postings by the regulars. The situation could be analogous to people who want to get into a conversation at a party but can't because it's dominated by a few fast-talkers who never let others get a word in edgewise. In the D&C's case, it probably doesn't help that the "top three" have a reputation for being aggressive and often insulting in their comments, primarily to other regulars but sometimes to newcomers as well. (One of the top three has boasted in forum postings that he does this intentionally as a conversational tactic, to see if newcomers will stand up for themselves or "run," i.e. quit posting.)

There's no real answer to this conundrum. If a forum is open to the community, then it must be open; it makes no sense to put limits on how frequently or how many postings an individual may make. And it's not as if there is any sort of upper limit on the number of entries in a thread, so postings by the heaviest participants don't prevent others from joining in -- except in the sense that people wishing to join the conversation might not because the thread looks like a small-group activity not welcoming to outsiders. (The party analogy again.)

I'm curious what others make of this. When we talk about "news as a conversation" does this qualify? Is it a useful exercise for the community just to have the facilities for a conversational commons available, even if they are dominated by a relative handful of users? Is it a useful exercise for the news organization that sponsors it? Does anyone know of any research into this phenomenon that is more systematic than my back-of-the-envelope quantitative case study? Comments would be welcomed and appreciated!

Convention Programming Set (repost of earlier entry)

The Civic and Citizen Journalism Interest Group has a strong lineup of research presentations, panels and other activities scheduled for the annual AEJMC convention, to be held in Chicago from Wednesday Aug. 6 through Saturday Aug. 9.

CCJIG programming actually will start the day before the formal convention, with a special half-day program exploring "The Past, Present and Future of Civic/Citizen Journalism" taking place at Columbia College of Chicago from 2 to 6 p.m. Tuesday Aug. 5. There is no charge to attend, although registration would be appreciated because refreshments will be provided. For information or to RSVP, contact CCJIG Co-Vice-Chair Nikhil Moro at

Two other highlights during the convention are CCJIG's co-sponsorship of a mini-plenary session on "The Transformation of Print Journalism" planned for Wednesday afternoon and sponsorship of the always popular and informative J-Lab Luncheon on Friday. The topic of discussion at the luncheon by a panel of media industry professionals will be "Networked Journalism: The Changing Face of News." CCJIG also will sponsor two panel sessions on teaching practices and two on industry practices.

For information about all of these programs see details below. For more information about the convention in general, including registration and travel details, visit AEJMC's site at

Hope to see you there!

CCJIG Program Schedule for Chicago Convention

Tuesday Aug. 5 (Pre-Conference)

"The Past, Present and Future of Civic/Citizen Journalism."
2 p.m. to 6 p.m.

This pre-conference event marks 20 years of the Civic/Public Journalism movement with three 75-minute panel sessions and a short tour of the Department of Journalism's Convergence Newsroom at Columbia College Chicago, which will serve as the venue. Some issues to be addressed include: How should the modern press re-engage with its communities? How do principles and practices from the public journalism movement address that need? How could representative journalism work? What are some newer media formats being used by hyperlocal journalists?

Part 1:
Title: Civic/Public Journalism 2.0
Description: 1988 marks 20 years since the Civic/Public Journalism movement started
in the U.S, advancing the need for the modern press to re-engage with its communities. Where do principles and practices from the public journalism movement now inform the press? How does the past inform us about where Civic/Public Journalism may influence future avenues toward press re-engagement with citizens?
Presiding/moderating: Jack Rosenberry
Jay Rosen, New York University; Ed Lambeth, University of Missouri; Mark Deuze, Indiana University; and Burton St. John, Old Dominion University

Part 2:
Title: Meet the Press: Hyperlocal, Community and Citizen Media in Chicago
Description: This panel will deliver insights into how the ecospheres of citizen and hyperlocal journalism coincide in Chicago, the storied "City of Neighborhoods." The panelists represent a variety of media, from print to video to Internet and include journalists who are experimenting with new media forms and community members who are creating media.
Presiding/Moderating: Barbara Iverson, Columbia College Chicago
Nikhil Moro, Central Michigan University; Suzanne McBride, Columbia College Chicago; Adrian Holovaty,; and Steve Rhodes,

Part 3:
Title: They Blog for Journalism Change - And It Pays Off
Description: Jay Rosen turns from the guru of public journalism to the guru of citizen journalism by starting innovative projects like Off the Bus and on his blog. Jeff Jarvis, former journalist, starts blogging about journalism change and then gets appointed to associate professor of journalism and director of the new-media program at The City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. Leonard Witt introduces a new idea called Representative Journalism at his blog Out of the blue, the head of a family foundation emails him and starts to underwrite Representative Journalism projects. Mindy McAdams, author of Flash Journalism: How to Create Multimedia News Packages, uses her blog to catalog and critique the latest developments in digital storytelling, from Flash to databases to video.
Presiding/moderating: Kim Pearson, The College of New Jersey
Leonard Witt, Kennesaw State University; Jay Rosen, New York University; and Mindy McAdams, University of Florida

Directions to Columbia College: From the conference hotel (the Downtown Marriott on Michigan Avenue), go about a mile south on N. Michigan and turn left on E. Congress Pkwy. The Convergence Newsroom is located in the Journalism Department suite on the second floor of the building at 33 E. Congress.

Wednesday Aug. 6: (General Conference)

3:15 p.m.: Mini-plenary session "The Transformation of Print Journalism"
Description: This program will feature industry and academic experts from the Newspaper Division, Media Management and Economic Division, Community Journalism Interest Group and Civic and Citizen Journalism Interest Group examining the future of the genre known as print journalism -- which is rapidly transitioning to print/online hybrids, greater diversification and niche approaches in audience/content strategy and business operations.

5 p.m.: Panel session: Sustaining Innovation in Journalism
Description: Turning a great idea into long-term community change, anticipating the sustainability question for civic and community journalism training program proposals and creating a culture of constant innovation in the newsroom will be explored in a program sponsored by CCJIG and co-sponsored by the Newspaper Division

Thursday Aug. 6:

8:15 a.m.: Refereed research session on theme "The Transparency of News in the Digital Age"
Paper titles and authors:
  • Writer Information and Perceived Credibility of Stories on a Citizen Journalism Web Site; Kirsten Johnson, Elizabethtown College
  • Participatory Journalism and the Transformation of News; David Ryfe and Donica Mensing, University of Nevada, Reno
  • A Study of Journalistic and Source Transparency in U.S. Online Newspaper and Online Citizen Journalism Articles; Serena Carpenter, Arizona State University

1:30 p.m.: "Scholar-to-Scholar" Refereed research poster session
CCJIG will have five entries in this popular research venue. Paper titles and authors are:
  • Is there an Elite Hold? Mass Media to Social Media Influence in Blog Networks; Sharon Meraz; University of Illinois at Chicago
  • Developing a Citizen Journalism Site at a Small College: Lessons Learned as We Launch; Tamara Gillis, Heather Tillberg-Webb and Kirsten Johnson, Elizabethtown College
  • Madison Commons in Wisconsin: Experimenting with a citizen-journalism model; Sue Robinson, Cathy DeShano, Nakho Kim and Lewis Friedland, University of Wisconsin-Madison;
  • Journalism-as-a-Conversation: A Concept Explication; Doreen Marchionni, University of Missouri-Columbia;
  • Youth Make the News: A Case Study of Three Youth-Generated News Websites; Jeffrey Neely, University of Florida

3:15 p.m.: Panel session titled "College Papers' Mission: Confronting Issues of Responsibility, Diversity and Press Freedom"
CCJIG and the Minorities and Communication Division are co-sponsoring a session featuring student newspaper editors and academics

5 p.m. Panel session titled " What the F***?!! Dealing with offensive postings on news Web sites."
Description: In recent years, news Web sites from Washington to Los Angeles have encountered profanities, obscenities, racist comments, flaming and other offensive postings on their discussion/message boards. Some Web sites, such as the, have shut down certain boards to prevent the online publication of foul language. Other Web sites have started vetting messages before they are posted. This panel co-sponsored by COMJIG and CCJIG session will provide case studies, best practices and legal and ethical advice about discussion-board content.

6:45 p.m. Member meeting followed by executive meeting.
As with last year, CCJIG and COMJIG are planning to meet jointly for a while, separately for a while, and hold executive meetings after.

Friday Aug. 8:

12:15 p.m. J-Lab luncheon "Networked Journalism: The Changing Face of News"
Description: From crowdsourcing to user-generated content, community news sites to nonprofit news, former news consumers are now actively committing random, and not so random, acts of journalism. Sometimes they are competing with mainstream news outlets and sometimes they are collaborating with them. How should newsrooms and classrooms prepare future journalists for participating in community news and information networks? And how can journalists use the networks to juice Big-J Journalism?
Funded by the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation

3:15 p.m.: Panel session titled "Whose Learning Curve Is It? How Technological Advances Have Changed How We Teach Journalism."
Description: CCJIG and COMJIG again are collaborating on this session featuring strategies for incorporating digital media into civic-oriented student media and courses.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

CCJIG Recruiting Officers

With the annual AEJMC convention coming up in Chicago just about a month away, one of the preparatory tasks of the outgoing officers is to recruit a slate of candidates to serve as officers for the coming year.

Several current officers have volunteered to step forward into the key leadership roles of group chair, vice chair (responsible for programming) and research chair. But several other positions are vacant at present, and we are hoping to find individuals interested in filling them. These are the Teaching and PF&R officers, Secretary and Newsletter Editor.

All of these are could be considered "entry level" officer's roles, and are excellent opportunities for anyone interested in the group to become involved in a limited way to learn more about it and get to know others involved with it a little better. Full "job descriptions" can be found below.

Anyone interested in serving in one of these capacities, or in finding out more about the positions, may contact current Chair Jack Rosenberry at

Teaching Chair

Primary responsibility is to coordinate and support the group's activities directed toward teaching and pedagogy on the subject of civic and citizen journalism. Specific tasks include:
- Writing or soliciting other members to write articles about teaching related to civic and citizen journalism for the newsletter and blog.
- Working with Web master to update teaching tips area on Web site
- Providing ideas for panels for the convention on teaching-related topics, and helping programming chair(s) evaluate teaching panel submissions. Better still, going the extra step and organizing and moderating such panels for the convention.
- Monitoring teaching activities by the group and its membership for inclusion in the annual report due to AEJMC headquarters in June.

Professional Freedom and Responsibility (PF&R) Chair

Primary responsibility is to coordinate and support the group's activities directed toward what AEJMC calls "Professional Freedom and Responsibility," which basically means members' interaction with the media professions on five primary levels as identified in the AEJMC code of ethics. They are: (1) support for and encouragement of freedom of expression; (2) support for and promotion of ethical behavior; (3) fostering of media criticism and accountability; (4) encouragement and recognition of racial, gender and cultural inclusiveness; and (5) encouragement/recognition of public service by AEJMC members and media representatives.

Specific tasks associated with this include:
- Writing or soliciting other members to write articles on PF&R topics for the newsletter and blog). Note: This is a very broad area; nearly anything having to do with civic/citizen journalism activities in the professional world would qualify.
- Providing ideas for panels for the convention on PF&R related topics, and helping programming chair(s) evaluate PF&R panel submissions. Better still, going the extra step and organizing and moderating such panels for the convention.
- Monitoring PF&R activities by the group and its membership for inclusion in the annual report due to AEJMC headquarters in June.


Primary responsibility is to compile official proceedings of the interest group to be used in preparation of annual report and otherwise for documentation to AEJMC headquarters if called for.
Specific tasks associated with this include:
- Minutes of membership meeting at convention
- Summary report of any "virtual" meetings conducted by executive board via e-mail during the year, especially regarding decisions made/actions taken

Newsletter editor

Primary responsibility is to produce two issues of the newsletter during the course of the year, early fall (ideally, an Oct. 1 printing/mailing deadline with the call for panels/proposals in it) and late winter/early spring (ideally, a March 1 printing/mailing deadline with the call for research papers in it).
Specific tasks associated with this include:
- Soliciting articles from other officers and members to be published in newsletter. Editors occasionally write articles, of course, but are not expected to and should not write the whole thing themselves; they need and deserve support from others.)
- Editing, designing and producing the newsletter using a layout program such as Quark or In Design, and creating it as a PDF for posting on Web site and for production work by AEJMC staff.
- Serving as liaison with AEJMC staff for printing and mailing of the newsletter.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Call for Teaching Ideas: New Methods for Our Changing Media

As we're teaching our students about new ways that journalists use digital technology to connect with audiences, we're often exploring new methods ourselves to make our points.

As we teach about change, we're adopting our own new approaches. In this, we mimic those in the field who are involved in a continuing quest using trial and error to find effective techniques.

It's time we begin sharing more of our experiences and learning from one another. Here are some questions we can try to answer:
· What techniques have you adopted and which ones seem to be succeeding?
· What unintended consequences have you discovered?
· Have you introduced a class blog? How do you manage it?
· How are your students responding to this new approach?
· What sort of issues have you experienced in assessing student work?
· What should others know before they attempt a project similar to yours?
· Do you have a means of evaluating your new methods?
· Have you gathered empirical data that you can share with others?
· Do you have ideas for gathering meaningful evaluative data?

Those of us in the Civic & Citizen Journalism Interest Group look forward to sharing our ideas. Please join us as we compile our ideas and comments. Let's turn this into a conversation that benefits everyone. We are weighing a few different means of publishing this information, from creating a compendium to posting ideas on our group's Web site at to adding to our weblog at

To participate, please send your ideas to Glenn Scott, CCJIG teaching chair, at We will gather, edit and post from there.
Please keep your comments concise. This blog will welcome participation via comments. We'll follow AP style as long as it seems applicable. Be sure to include:
1. Your name and institution.
2. Name of course and your main teaching goals.
3. Number of students.
4. Length of time or number of semesters/quarters you've used the techniques.
5. Please add other salient information that will help the rest of us.

Thanks for your interest in participating!

Monday, June 16, 2008

On The Future of the Internet

The story in South Korea today is that Internet strategies are behind the recent, well-organized street protests involving hundreds of thousands of people. I'm at a huge conference in Seoul this week on The Future of the Internet. Sponsor is the Organization for Economic Development and Cooperation (OCED), the influential international organization that promotes economic growth for democratic nations.

This is a so-called ministerial conference involving cabinet-level participation from member countries. So it's been interesting timing here to witness this big conference setting global policies for the Net occurring while across town demonstrators are using the web as a means of political organizing and resistance, mostly with an anti-global theme.

Just shows how ubiquitous the Net has become in our lives.

I'm here with Elon's program to chronicle the hopes and fears of key players in the continuing development of the Net. See our nice website at

We'll be adding video interviews with a few dozen people we're interviewing now. I'm along with two of our top communications students, who are getting a great learning experience while they handle the videography and interviewing.

Among the stakeholders here are representatives of civil society -- reps from consumer groups, labor groups and others organizations focused on protesting users' rights online. Among the speakers is Marc Rotenberg, founder of The Public Voice, who will be keynote speaker at the AEJMC conference this August in Chicago. The Public Voice is a network of civic groups seeking to speaking up on behalf of the public interest.

This is not a conference on journalism, but journalists of all types should be concerned with the policies being reaffirmed here (mostly) to maintain the net as a place of global commerce and open expression. As I write this, I'm hearing a speaker, Tae-Won Chey, chairman of he SK Group, say, "We've got to figure how to make the Internet a better place."

Next up, Josh Silverman, president of Skype, who reaffirms the values of open digital communication. He says, "the consumer always wins in the end." This is a common statement at this conference -- a message we should remember as we explore how participatory journalism will extend in the future. What distingues Net communication is that users are going to seek out what Silverman calls unarticulated needs. In seeking them, he says, consumers create "game-changing" practices that reshape online methods.

His message then: We should be interested in reaching and sharing with our audiences in whatever method they like best. Not according to what we want best.

I'll try to add more notes later.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Soft launch of new CCJIG bibliography

Sue Ellen Christian, CCJIG research co-chair, has revamped our bibliography of resources about civic and citizen journalism. The new bibliography includes both online and print resources. You can view the bibliography as a Web page or as a printer-friendly PDF. I have posted the documents on our interest group's Web site. You can drill down to them from our home page ...

... or go directly to the site's bibliography section:

We welcome your feedback on this. In particular, let Sue Ellen know if you know of resources to add to the bibliography.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Statement of Purpose for Renewal Petition -- Please Comment

Defining a focus for CCJIG is an issue I have tried to pursue during my time as chair of CCJIG, for a very practical reason: in Chicago this summer the interest group must submit its triennial renewal petition. To this end, throughout the year I have sought ideas and input from the membership that reflect on the nature of civic/public journalism, its connections with citizen/participatory journalism, and what types of activities the interest group should be pursuing, to help create a statement required in the renewal petition that establishes the unique niche or purpose an interest group serves. (See blog entries on this topic in November and January archives.)

The responses didn’t exactly come in overwhelming numbers but the ones that were submitted were thoughtful, well-stated and helpful in reaching the statement of purpose that follows. So were prior annual reports and renewal petitions. With ideas from these various sources, what follows is an edited (shortened) draft statement of purpose to be included in the CCJIG renewal petition to be submitted this summer. The rest of the longer statement, replaced by ellipses below, describes and discusses CCJIG’s role in the association vis-à-vis other groups such as ComTech, Newspaper and COMJIG. The full version will be published in the CCJIG pre-convention newsletter due out in early July; it is omitted here simply to avoid having an overly long posting.

Further comments are welcome; the final draft must be submitted before the beginning of the convention. My goal is actually to get it sent to South Carolina by the second week of July, well in advance of the actual convention start.

* * *

"CCJIG’s unique purpose is its exclusive focus on the role and purposes of audience-involved journalism in the contemporary media mix. This includes teaching about, fostering research into, and conducting PF&R activities related to the creation, purposes and impacts of professional and citizen-driven participatory journalism practices, including the role these practices play in building communities and encouraging civic engagement.

"Because this is a broad area, the activities of other CCJIG units do touch on it. Examination of audience-centric content creation such as YouTube videos and blogs certainly could fall within the teaching, research or PF&R missions of numerous other groups within the association. The particular niche CCJIG fills is an exclusive focus on the journalistic aspects of these presentations. …

"… This focus on audience-centric journalism presentations is supported and enhanced by the group’s traditional mission and focus on the relationship of journalism and civic engagement, which date to its days as the Civic Journalism Interest Group. As it was explained in an earlier renewal petition (2002), “Civic journalism is about engaging the public in interactive journalism and in the development of democratic institutions. This focus cuts across all the endeavors of AEJMC but is foremost in no other association entity.”

"With this as a foundation – and the subsequent extension in recent years to include the role that participatory journalism contributes to this process – CCJIG clearly can be seen as filling a unique and significant role within the structure of AEJMC."

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Covering Race

I've been working on a service-learning project with students by focusing on covering race and ethnicity in our community. As part of my curriculum, I've sought to integrate learning on personal and societal biases about race and ethnicity. As such, I've drawn upon Peggy McIntosh's exercise on unpacking the backpack of white privilege as well as used the "Authentic Voices" text that showcases some of the top reporting and writing on race and ethnicity. Students have also enjoyed taking the demonstration tests available at Project Implicit, an online project that seeks to gauge participants' internal biases. I'm particularly interested in ways to help students identify their internal biases and how these may seep into or influence their reporting and writing in covering local communities.

Any one with thoughts or teaching ideas on this front, please post!

Sue Ellen Christian

Friday, March 14, 2008

Rochester (NY) paper relaunches Web site with participatory journalism focus

When this blog was started, one of its purposes was to highlight interesting and innovative citizen and civic journalism projects from around the industry. My hometown paper, the Rochester (N.Y.) Democrat and Chronicle has just launched an ambitious one. I'm not sure if the approach is truly unique; the software that drives it is from a third-party vendor and has an off-the-shelf, template-y feel to it -- so it's possible that similar software is driving similar projects at other papers out there. But what's interesting is being able to watch this one from launch and see how it develops. (Full disclosure: this newspaper is my former full-time employer and still brings me back for temporary fill-in work on the copy desk when they have a need and my schedule allows for it. And I'm a registered user and have done a little blogging and forum posting since this started not long ago.) Here are some observations on this foray into a ramped-up form of parcipatory journalism at one mid-sized metro:

The Rochester (N.Y.) Democrat and Chronicle, has recently completed a re-launch of its Web site in a way that highlights reader contributions in the form of blogs, forum postings and directly-submitted content. The Gannett-owned Democrat and Chronicle has a print circulation of about 170,000.

The redesigned home page actually emphasizes these contributions over the traditional news, with links immediately below the main flag devoted to portions of the site for reader-generated and custom content outnumbering the links to the traditonal news departments such as business, sports, news and opinion. Also prominent atop the home page are the log-in screen for registered users and links to a reader-generated calendar -- all of it above the traditonal news postings.

In fact, the only traditional news placed "above the scroll" (as one editor described it) is a rotating carousel of top-story photos with links to the full story, and about a half dozen "top story" headlines. Overall, that news package occupying perhaps half the space above the scroll and another set of links near the bottom of the page organized by department (news, sports, business, top world/nation headlines) are the only place for traditional news postings anywhere on the page. Combined, they might occupy about 10 percent of the total page area. The rest of the space is dominated by links to custom content and especially places for reader content to be both viewed and contributed. Some of the contributions are later reverse-published, or used for content in the print publication.

Audience members are invited to register, and when they do a personal profile page is created for them with a place to list interests and personal data, a personal blog as well as a social network utility for connecting with other users and posting messages to those pages (a la the Facebook "Wall"). Readers' blog entries are highlighted on the site's front page, with automatic updating that keeps the four or five most recent postings out there for prominent display with clickable links to the actual entry. Readers also can comment on each other's blogs and also submit photos and articles, with the most recent highlighted on the front page similar to the blog updates. More than 50 themed forums allow readers to establish discussions on topics of their own choice. After about a week of operation, more than 250 discussion threads had been established with nearly 2,000 postings in them.

The week the new site was launched, the paper held a citizen journalism workshop for more than three dozen community members -- who turned out on a snowy March morning to learn more about the project and also receive a quick course in journalistic practice and ethics from former USA Today editor Adell Crowe. At the session, Democrat and Chronicle Editor Karen Magnuson said the goal was to promote democratic conversation about issues of community concern.

The relaunch of the paper's main site is Gannett Rochester's latest effort in the field of encouraging reader contribution and comment. Earlier, it had established RocMoms, with content of special interest for women; RocMen, a parallel site for men; and RocLoop (aka "The Loop") for area college students, which is produced by student interns overseen by professional staff.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Online News Assn. organizing social network

The Online News Association is pursuing a couple of initiatives that civic/citizen journalism educators might be interested in knowing about.

One of them is an online network, akin to LinkedIn, that ONA has set up using an interim site on Ning, the free social-networking site.

It can be accessed at:

According to Jody Brannon of ONA, here’s how the educators can use it.

"From the main page, under GROUPS, you’ll find various categories, especially Teaching Online Journalism. This will be our online clubhouse, so to speak, where we’ll be able to contribute and organize our efforts. To start, I’ve created four discussions, related to syllabi, research, experts and student groups. Each of those arenas has two leaders so far, but we can certainly tap into the expertise around the academic and professional communities. Maybe that’s you?"

Jody also notes that a conference call to update everyone on efforts is planned for 4 p.m. Wednesday Feb. 27. I didn't want to post the phone number and access code here in public, but anyone from CCJIG who wants to take part may e-mail me and I'll forward Jody's e-mail with the information.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Two articles of interest in latest AJR

Two articles in the current edition of American Journalism Review focus on some of the positive things occuring with interactive, participatory journalism.

The lead article in the Drop Cap section of the magazine, titled "Joining the Conversation: Newspapers are establishing blogs to talk to readers about their concerns" explores the use of editors' blogs or transparency blogs

The article notes that "Once more likely to circle the wagons than engage in conversation, newspapers have moved in recent years to become more transparent, and top editors like [Raliegh News & Observer's John] Drescher are increasingly reaching out to readers via blogs."

The full article can be found at:

In the same issue, Carl Sessions Stepp's regular book column discusses a new offering from Northwestern University's Michele Weldon titled Everyman News: The Changing American Front Page (published by University of Missouri Press). According to Stepp, the book "argues that a content revolution is taking place in plain sight that will transform media and could help save newspapers." He further quotes from the book that this revolution, is a "revived journalistic reverence for the individual" and "the concurrent explosion in marketing of the stories of ordinary people."

The full review by Stepp can be found at:

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

CCJIG chair now a published author!

I hope no one will be offended if the IG chair/blog administrator indulges in a moment of self-promotion here. But this seemed like a good venue to announce that I've had a new book published. Here's a look at the cover, and links to the publisher's site and Amazon site for it.


Publisher's Web site link:

Amazon Link:

Monday, January 21, 2008

Defining the Interest Group's mission

Note: This was originally posted in November, and is being re-posted for a new round of comments -- because, sadly, it received NO comments when originally sent out.

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 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!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

CCJIG Paper Call for Chicago convention 2008

The Civic and Citizen Journalism Interest Group invites research paper submissions for the 2008 Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication convention to be held in Chicago, IL from Aug. 6 to 9, 2008. Papers must be submitted in accordance with all requirements of AEJMC and its uniform paper call and electronic submission process. Further information is available at: The deadline for submission is 11:59 p.m. CDT April 1, 2008.

Suggested paper topics include: 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, the changing newspaper industry economy and its effect on the development of the citizen journalism movement, the missions and meanings of "civic journalism" and "citizen journalism," and teaching civic and citizen journalism.

Please direct any questions to Research Co-Chairs Sue Ellen Christian ( or Burton St. John (

Friday, January 11, 2008

Help Enhance Civic-Citizen Journalism Research Bibliography

Hello CCJIGers!

One goal of the group this year is to begin to compile a useful listing of books and articles on civic journalism and citizen journalism, from teaching the concepts to doing them to analyzing them and everything in between.

**We need your help in this!! And it won't take but a minute!**

Just send me your recommendation of one article and one book that you have found useful in your own research, writing or teaching, and we will quickly meet our goal of a practical resource for all to use. My email is:

Thanks for helping advance the scholarship of the interest group and other AEJMC members.

Sue Ellen Christian
Assoc. Prof. of Journalism
School of Communication
Western Michigan University
Kalamazoo, MI 49008-5318

Friday, January 4, 2008

Landmark for sale -- a scary thought

The big news in Virginia media circles this week is that Landmark Communications, which owns The Virginian-Pilot and other newspapers, is up for sale. That's big news for the civic/citizen journalism community, too: The Pilot, based in Norfolk, has been a pioneer in public journalism -- it tapped Jay Rosen as a consultant years ago. And Landmark papers also are strong practitioners for citizen journalism: The Greensboro, N.C., News and Record, for example, was one of the first daily newspapers to invest heavily in blogs.

Here's what The Pilot reported today:

Landmark confirmed media reports late Wednesday that it had hired two national investment firms, JPMorgan and Lehman Brothers, to “assist in exploring strategic alternatives, including the possible sale of the company’s businesses.”

A formal announcement to employees at all Landmark properties nationwide was made Thursday.

Company revenues topped $2 billion last year. A sale of all, or some, of Landmark’s properties – which include The Weather Channel in Atlanta and Dominion Enterprises – could occur as soon as summer, Landmark executives said.

[Me again:] In the interest of transparency and full disclosure, I should note that I worked at The Pilot (and its now-defunct afternoon sister, The Ledger-Star) in the late 1970s and early '80s. I remember renting a high school auditorium and, with other editors and reporters, holding a community meeting with our readers. We didn't call it civic journalism back then; it was just good journalism -- part of our continual efforts to connect with people.

As a privately held company, Landmark has less subject to the vagaries of Wall Street. It could take risks and make investments without focusing on the quarterly dividends. That's why the possible sale is so distressing. The Pilot, the Roanoke Times, the Greensboro N&R and other Landmark papers may end up being owned by companies that care more about short-term profits than public service. And that would be a blow to journalism.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Greetings from Guatemala

Hola! I am the designated blogger this week, and I just returned from a holiday trip through Guatemala. It's a richly diverse country of steep volcanoes, Mayan ruins, dense jungles, spectacular lakes -- and vibrant media. In the country's newspapers, I saw a lot of civic journalism, including invitations for readers to offer their thoughts and the integration of citizen voices into news coverage. Some of these features are reflected in the newspapers' online editions. For example, check out the letters to the editor that Prensa Libre ran today.

[Don't read Spanish? No problema. Google has a terrific translation tool that can turn a Web page from one language to another -- including, of course, from Spanish to English. What's really cool is that, after you've converted the page into the language you want, every link you click on is also converted. Here are Prensa Libre's letters in English.]

I travel a lot; I spent the first half of 2007 serving a Knight International Journalism Fellowship in Ukraine. My gut says that the media in other countries often do more civic journalism than U.S. media. And this may be because citizen viewpoints are more diverse abroad. There are more political parties, for instance, and a wider range of opinions than I usually see in the United States. (Of course, this could be a chicken-and-the-egg proposition: Maybe if U.S. media practiced more civic journalism, Americans would feel freer to voice a wider range of opinions.)

In Guatemala, you can see the variety of opinions -- some might call it fragmentation -- in last year's presidential elections, which Alvaro Colom won with 28 percent of the votes cast. Here are the election results, courtesy of Nuestro Diario:

My blog question of the day is: What do you think? Do foreign media practice civic journalism more than U.S. media? And if so, why?