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: http://www.has.vcu.edu/civic-journalism/newsletter/07winter.pdf )

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: http://www.aejmc.org/_events/convention/papercall/index.php. 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 (sueellen.christian@wmich.edu) or Burton St. John (bsaintjo@odu.edu).

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: sueellen.christian@wmich.edu.

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?