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.

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"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."

1 comment:

Glenn Scott said...

I support the emphasis found here in a couple of points: Yes, we should be focused on how participatory journalism relates to civic engagement (and the slightly broader question of the maintenance of democracy). And I like the way you've linked the participatory function to the initial interest of this group in civic engagement. These are not two distinct areas of interest but one area that quite naturally has become interlinked as participants have opted for new tools to tell new stories.

So the direction seems right. We're looking at participatory functions and media not simply as an overall phenomenon but as a process that carries journalistic and civic values. This means we can let some other group get excited about fan blogs and PTA blogs. We can keep a stronger focus on journalistic values, whether the originator of the content is a professional journalist or a non-professional (and even that term is getting slippery) who has an interest in civic participation.