Monday, October 5, 2009

Fall newsletter now available

Check out CCJIG's fall newsletter, which is no longer printed and mailed but is available as a PDF on the CCJIG Web site.

This issue includes coverage of the 2009 convention in Boston, the panel call for next year's convention in Denver and details about two mid-year events, plus ideas for bringing crowdsourcing into the classroom.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Call for panel proposals for the 2010 AEJMC convention in Denver (due Oct. 15)

7 September 2009

The Civic & Citizen Journalism Interest Group (CCJIG) invites proposals for engaging panels for the 2010 AEJMC convention in Denver.

Please email your panel proposal to Co-Vice Chair Deborah Chung ( as a Word attachment by October 15.

Past panels have focused on blogging discourse, credibility of citizen journalism practices, citizen contributions and politics, user collaborative activities, community conversations in hyperlocal media, newsroom projects, practicing civic and citizen journalism in a multicultural environment, and teaching civic and citizen journalism.

Panel proposals for 2010 may address, but are not limited to, the following broad themes:

1. Emerging models and best practices in teaching of civic/citizen journalism
2. Civic/citizen journalism conversations over health care legislation
3. Citizen-sponsored or citizen-involved journalism, particularly focused on environmental, health, and social issues.
4. Media convergence and using new tools to facilitate citizen journalism
5. Local/global practices and perceptions of civic/citizen journalism.

In general, address topics that 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, possible co-sponsors (divisions or interest groups), and contact information.  Also provide speaker demographic and funding estimates (see sample proposal).

Selected proposals are compiled into a single document, with proposals from other divisions and interest groups, in order to be considered for co-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!

Deborah S. Chung, Ph.D.
Co-Vice Chair, Civic & Citizen Journalism Interest Group

How a citizen investigator shook the state's conscience

This week's New Yorker contains some devastating journalism by staff writer David Grann.

Mr. Grann's is the type of story that must be read by every student of reporting -- and by every deadwood hack who has ever tried to wring poetry from journalism.

It supports my hunch that great journalism is not about mushy platitudes or feel-good prose, but, rather, about exploring -- and with luck, exposing -- jarring truths.

Mr. Grann exposes a particularly jarring truth: How, in an arrest culminating in an execution, the state of Texas failed justice -- failed it systematically via the due processes of trial, appeal, and clemency -- thus realizing Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's eerie old fear (expressed via a concurring opinion joined by Anthony Kennedy in Herrara v. Collins (1993)):
[T]he execution of a legally and factually innocent person would be a constitutionally intolerable event.
But the real reason I blog about Mr. Grann's penetrating story is Elizabeth Gilbert of Houston, Texas, the citizen investigator whom he spotlights.

Ms. Gilbert is a friend-of-the-underdog activist whose selfless effort -- even though she ends up buoyed-up by her prisoner subject -- is an example in perseverance, particularly for wannabe citizen journalists.

Check out Ms. Gilbert's tenacious compassion in the must-read story, here. Meanwhile, to Mr. Grann I say, take a bow.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

What's the link between virtual discussion, civic engagement?

DISCLOSURE NOTE: This is a cross-post from my personal blog - JR

Just skimmed over the recent report on The Internet and Civic Engagement from The Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project (available here). Interesting stuff about how civic engagement generally and online posting about political issues are correlated. It definitely will require a deeper read.

I'm especially interested to see if it sheds any light on something that I think is a critical, but under-rated, aspect of the whole issue surrounding online civic engagement: the question of causality.

In other words, are people who are just naturally inclined (for whatever reason) to become social/political activists using the Internet as one more tool to communicate, the way earlier generations of activists used newsletters, phone-trees, mailing lists, etc.? Or, does the ability to build communities of interests around specific agendas (political or otherwise) using interactive online communcation really lead people to become engaged in civic matters when they otherwise would not have done so (if the online tools weren't there)?

I've tried to explore some of this in my own research and the evidence I've seen on it is kind of mixed, but leans toward the first of those approaches; i.e., that people tend to be civic activists first. Joining social networks, discussion forums, and the like is just a natural progression for them, building on their innate interests to become involved. Despite the ease and efficiency of becoming "virtually engaged" in civic matters, the Internet isn't creating large-scale civic engagement out of nothing as some of the "cyberutopians" predicted it might back in the early days of its development.

There probably isn't a definitive answer here, and in fact there may be causal influences both ways -- that someone with a mild tendency to be engaged who participates in online civic engagement strengthens that natural tendency, which makes them even more inclined to become more engaged virtually. In other words, a feedback loop develops.

Like I said, it will be interesting to read the Pew report more thoroughly to see if it says anything about these issues. If anyone has any thoughts or ideas about this or suggestions for other research in the area to look at, I would be interested to hear them.

PS: Thank you to CCJIG stalwart Len Witt at for his post about this report, which led me to it.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Town Halls and Civic Journalism

As news media across the country report on the "August revolt" at Democratic town hall meetings, many don't seem to take a critical look at how the meetings are being conducted, or to offer alternatives.   

In Public Journalism and Public Life: Why Telling the News is Not Enough (1998), Davis "Buzz" Merritt, one of the founders of the civic journalism movement, wrote that "[public/civic journalism] moves beyond the limited mission of telling the news to a broader mission of helping public life go well, and out of that imperative. When public life is going well, true deliberation occurs and leads to potential solutions."     

From that public perspective, we might ask what types of coverage could help public life go well and facilitate deliberation. Are just the stories of disruption and shouting getting most of the headlines?  Do these town hall meetings have ground rules?  Are there instances of town hall meeting with basic ground rules and facilitation?  What might be the role of the press?  What are the alternatives?  

First,'s Explainer answers the question, "do town halls have rules," with a resounding no.   Political town halls are generally informal gatherings where constituents can have their voice heard.  The process is up to the organizer.  Town hall meetings are the descendants of New England "town meetings."  Since the 1600s, town governments of New England have held highly regimented meetings for decision-making.   

For some instances of town hall meetings on health care reform that had  ground rules or different formats, see:
For more insight on consensus building alternatives, see:  
 Mary Beth Callie
 CCJIG chair, 2009-10
Regis University, Denver 

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

CCJIG's annual report for 2008-09 records significant achievements, key aspirations

I have placed on file CCJIG's annual report (and demographic profile) (pdf, 293 kb) for 2008-09.

The group's chief achievements for the year:
  • Membership jumped by about 30 per cent to 116, from 89 a year ago. Of those registered members, 57 were female; six identified themselves as African-American, two as Asian-American, and 12 as International.
  • CCJIG emerged as AEJMC’s largest interest group (by number of registered members), as announced by Council of Divisions chair Kimberly Bissell at the mid-winter meeting in Louisville, Kentucky, on 6 Dec. 2008.
  • Entries for the 2009 research paper competition increased 50 per cent to 27 from 18 a year ago, including a record 14 graduate student paper submissions.
  • An update of CCJIG’s research bibliography was published.
  • New collaborations (Law & Policy and History; also Harvard University and MIT) were established for convention activities. Old collaborations were maintained (Community Journalism, Media Ethics, Newspaper, Council of Affiliates).
  • The CCJIG blog, with more than 120 posts, became a primary catalyst of member discussion, meeting a key goal listed in the previous annual report.
  • An additional 100 or so posts on AEJMC Talk, many of them repeats or elaborations of CCJIG blog posts, exposed the larger AEJMC membership to civic and citizen journalism discussions.
  • Three newsletters (Fall 2008, Spring 2009, and Summer 2009) were published and circulated inside and outside of the group by newsprint and e-mail, each to about 200 receivers.
  • As of 30 July 2009, CCJIG's account had a balance of $3766.50.
  • CCJIG secured a $400 travel grant from AEJMC to fund the 2009 Boston convention travel of a non-member panelist from New York.
The report also lists CCJIG’s goals for the coming year. Some of those goals reflect perceived weaknesses; their order of priority is to be decided by the in-coming officers.

The group's goals for 2009-10:
  • Facilitate a discussion of CCJIG possibly applying to be an AEJMC Division, in a light of the group's quickly rising membership, the ubiquity of user-generated media, and the burgeoning scholarship of citizen journalism.
  • Maintain the CCJIG blog as a primary catalyst of member discussion, partly by encouraging blog participation by a cross-section of the membership.
  • Increase membership of minority and International scholars by 5 per cent overall.
  • Facilitate two or three Teaching panels in Denver 2010 (in Boston 2009 the group had only one) so that a relative balance may be restored between CCJIG’s Research, Teaching and PF&R activities.
  • Increase submissions of research papers by 10 per cent (from the 27 papers in Boston 2009) and enhance the quality of scholarship, particularly that related to citizen-journalistic responsibility.
  • Maintain an updated bibliography, preferably annotated.
  • Facilitate an increase of 10 per cent in submission of research papers related to (a) newer and rapidly evolving technologies such as Twitter or its progeny, or (b) the impact of new writing styles on citizen-journalistic credibility or responsibility.
  • Maintain overall acceptance rate of research competition papers at the current 55.55 per cent to par a course set by the Research Committee (known as the "50 per cent guideline").
  • Publish a teaching compendium to address the curriculum, content and pedagogy areas of the Teaching Committee standards; particular effort may be needed from CCJIG’s teaching standards chair (this will be a goal carried forward from 2007-08).
  • Organize a symposium or other meeting, online or offline, to mark the 20th anniversary – in 2010 – of James Batten's 1990 address that was a bellwether in the citizen journalism movement (this will be a goal modified and carried forward from 2007-08).
  • Continue the top paper awards. (Re-institution of the two $151 "best paper" awards in 2008 may explain part of the 50 per cent jump in paper submissions for Boston 2009).
I wish to record my deep appreciation for the devoted service to our group in 2008-09 by fellow officers Mary Beth Callie, Deborah Chung, Burton St. John, Kirsten A. Johnson, Glenn Scott, Jeff South, Serena Carpenter and Clyde Bentley.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Enhancing credibility, citizen journalism's next great challenge

(Strip courtesy of Scott Adams, 7 Nov. 2004)

What follows is a tweaked version of my piece appearing in the Summer 2009 issue of CCJIG's newsletter (pdf, 364 kb).
Would news audiences accept Jane Doe, the citizen journalist, better if she gained in credibility? Or would she become more credible upon being better accepted?

It’s a causality dilemma that weighs rather comfortably on my mind.

As audiences suffer fewer mainstream choices (due to consolidation of electronic media businesses and closures of newspaper), citizen journalists are emerging as primary catalysts of public affairs deliberations. From theater scans to war analyses and from niche reporting to bailout commentary, non-professionals are provoking our latent intellect, stirring our public empathy, and fragmenting our raw emotion, like never before.

Clearly, Ms. Doe, with her digital camera and URL, is transforming from obscure squeaker to keynote speaker. But is the marketplace of ideas better for it? I sure would like to know.

What I do know is that the citizen reporter is no stopgap expediency. She is here to stay.

In figuring out Ms. Doe's long-haul impact on journalism, I am reminded of one of history’s great lessons: If nothing else, every new technology has managed to transform the credibility in communication.

The Chinese invention of paper about 1900 years ago enabled writing for the record.

Five and a half centuries after that, Johannes Gutenberg’s invention of movable-type printing transformed European handbills into regime-changing newspapers.

Fast forward another 450 years: Guglielmo Marconi's founding of wireless telegraphy birthed the great medium of radio and then, only some 30 years later, Vladimir Zworykin’s electron scanning tube grew into television.

Eventually in 1970, Robert Maurer et al.’s invention of optic-fiber cable enabled massive telecom networks, and finally RAND Corp.’s Internet spawned a decentralized multitude of blogs.

Generally, it seems that newer the technology the smaller was its gestation period -- and the quicker it gained in credibility.

So what, specifically, is credibility? Perhaps B.J. Fogg of Stanford should answer that one. For citizen journalists, I would suggest credibility is a longitudinal concept -- perceived over time -- which enfolds unfailing attribution to sources, transparency in newsgathering, fair commentary, a 180-degree pan, much narrative detail, and of course logical argument.

The history indicates that we may expect blogs, tweets, iReports and other such technology to get rapidly more credible as it squeezes into the intellectual space historically engaged by legacy professionals.

Amra Tareen of AllVoices is already offering cash incentives for the best Ms. Does because “citizen journalism only works if the content is high quality.” Arianna Huffington of HuffPo is exploring a “distinction between saving journalism and saving newspapers.”

The New York Times and Boston Globe have collaborated with a personalizable content reader intriguingly named Kindle DX (for “deluxe”), and Fox-owned WJBK is hoping to replace the Detroit Free Press and Detroit News as they transition from daily home delivery to thrice a week in order to survive.

Regardless of business model – using donations (, using volunteers (, going nonprofit ( or aggregating ( – there can be no doubt that citizen journalism’s next great challenge is to enhance its own credibility.

I am watching, and I think so is everyone else at the Civic & Citizen Journalism Interest Group.
Also read: iReport vandals spotlight a challenge
And: AllVoices pioneers credibility ratings for citizen reports
And: "I want collective intelligence, but I also want sound journalism"
And: Journalism comes full circle with civic/citizen movement

Citizen journalism arrives in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe's 3MG Media group, which publishes four online newspapers, has opened its servers to citizen journalists.

Why? So that, the group says, "our readers will become an integral part of our news gathering efforts."
It will give Zimbabweans an opportunity to interact and participate in information and events that shape their daily lives.
If you live in Zimbabwe, or feel Zimbabwean, you may write to for more information.

"For healthy media, half of income should come from subscriptions"

OhmyNews founder-CEO Oh Yeon-ho is a robust frontiersman of tech Korea. And here is his theory of health:
"For a news media to remain healthy, it will have to earn at least 50% of its income from the sales of content or paid subscriptions. Despite our best effort, OhmyNews still relies on advertisers for more than 70% of its revenue," Oh said.

He added that if 100,000 readers joined the venture contributing KRW 10,000 a month, OhmyNews would be able to survive without relying on advertising revenues.

Buy why only online start-ups? Pay-ever-more-for-content may be good strategy -- nay, an inescapable reality -- for traditional media too. Consider this: In the first quarter of 2009, newspaper advertising plummeted almost 30 per cent, magazine advertising revenue fell more than 20 per cent, and broadcast television revenue slipped nearly 12 per cent.

Also read: "Stop giving away content via Web, Walter Isaacson advises media"
Can selling news via the Web save newspapers?
Can selling news via the Web save newspapers?
"A sustainable model emerges"

"Charity and volunteering are O.K., but news still needs a business model"

With more and more newspapers, including the venerated New York Times, considering or receiving charity, CUNY don Jeff Jarvis wonders if "the tin cup [is to] be the sole support of journalism" in any "new ecosystem of news."

Mr. Jarvis then answers the question. 
But in that ecosystem, gifts of money and effort will have their place. Except I prefer not to look at this as charity. That assumes the newspaper produces, owns and controls the asset that is the news. If, instead, we define news as the province of a larger ecosystem of which a newspaper - or its successor news organisation - is merely a member, then help no longer looks like charity. It looks like collaboration.
Check out his blog post here.

Citizen journalism workshop in Detroit area

If you live in a northern suburb of Detroit and would like to be a citizen journalist, read on.

The Journal Register Company-owned Independent Newspapers, Inc., plans to offer a three-hour workshop for budding citizen journalists.

To be held in New Baltimore, Michigan (just north of Lake St. Clair), the workshop will be free of cost to participants, and held in the premises of The Voice Newspapers at 51180 Bedford St., New Baltimore, MI 48047.

Residents of Macomb county and around may contact workshop organizer Jeff Payne at 586-716-8100 (ext. 304) to register. In a brief telephone conversation, Mr. Payne said the date and time of the workshop would be decided based on the number and preferences of the participants.

INI's site indicates that the company publishes more than two dozen community newspapers in four states.

iReport vandals spotlight a challenge

It seems the rosier the apples, the closer one must look.

Consider this story about iReport, a poster child of mainstream media's dalliance with citizen journalism. 
CNN's iReport citizen journalism site was vandalized again last night with a false report claiming that AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson was "found dead in his multimillion dollar beachfront mansion" after a coke binge with "male dancers everywhere."
It's likely the work of 4chan message board goons, upset over a report that AT&T was blocking the site for its broadband customers. . . .
[The false story] highlights the risk of high-profile news organizations like CNN running citizen journalism sites.
More here.

So what got those apples bad? Was it the boorishness of a big corporation? Regardless , can citizen journalism always expect succor in a marketplace of ideas? Or is there need for a regulator within? These questions may, in themselves, contain the vandals' unintended lessons.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Visit the Christian Science Monitor during AEJMC convention

Note: This event was a late addition to the Newspaper Division lineup, so details do not appear in the division's convention preview LeadTime newsletter and will not be in the formal convention program. It developed from an invitation from the Monitor to AEJMC members that arrived after the deadline for both publications.
For additional information or to RSVP, contact Newspaper Division Head Jack Rosenberry via e-mail: jrosenberry [at]

The Christian Science Monitor:
After 100 years, a radically new future

Representatives of the Christian Science Monitor will discuss its shift from daily print to Web-first journalism in a special event taking place during the AEJMC convention in Boston.

The meeting in the Monitor building, which is just across the street from the convention hotel, will take place 4 to 5:30 p.m. Wednesday Aug. 5. Reservations are required by Friday July 31 so that Monitor officials can be told how many to expect. To RSVP, contact Newspaper Division Chair Jack Rosenberry via e-mail: jrosenberry [at]

This will be an opportunity to learn about a respected journalistic institution, rub elbows with colleagues, and visit a landmark Boston address. Light refreshments will be served.

The event will include a tour of the Monitor’s newsroom and talk about how editors and managers view its groundbreaking shift from daily print to Web-first journalism while continuing their commitment to international and national news coverage. Participants will be able to get their take on how well the new three-pronged publishing strategy is working and what the reader reaction has been to the mix of daily online news coverage, a weekly print magazine, and an e-mailed subscription news briefing.

It will begin in the “Quotes” Café in the Christian Science Publishing Society lobby. This building, which houses the Monitor’s newsroom, is part of Church Center plaza, across the street from the Sheraton Boston hotel. To enter the building, walk along the reflecting pool and make a diagonal right turn at the corner of the church. As you near Massachusetts Avenue the main entrance is on the right, just past the entrance designated as the Monitor’s.


Monday, May 18, 2009

Comment deadline for Public Journalism 2.0 extended

We have had a request to extend the time to comment about the interviews for our book Public Journalism 2.0 by a few days. (See May 8 posting below for details). We therefore are setting a new deadline of May 25. Thank you to those who have contributed, and we hope this extension will elicit a little more involvement from the civic-citizen journalism community.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

"A cautionary tale with great photos"

Photographer Stephen Mallon was hired for an adventure in January -- to take close-ups of the salvage of U.S. Air Flight 1549 from the freezing Hudson.

On the Nieman blog Tim Windsor dubs Matthew Schechmeister's report "a cautionary tale with great photos."


Also see: "There's a plane in the Hudson"

"Opinion does not make citizen journalism"

Matthew Negrin of the New Hampshire Union Leader:
[J]ournalists are paid to inform the community.

So when people talk about citizen journalism replacing old-school journalism, I'm not exactly sure what they mean. Do they mean more people adding their opinions about community affairs? Do they mean more people reporting actual news by digging for secrets? Or do they just mean more blogging? It would be really great if some smart, aspiring citizen journalists could outline what exactly they plan to do to further the discussion of news instead of simply reducing it to personal opinion.
More here.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Research project on civic-citizen journalism puts theory into practice

In planning for our book "Public Journalism 2.0: The Promise and Reality of a Citizen Engaged Press," (due out from Routledge early in 2010) we thought it would be interesting and appropriate to use some of the techniques of online participatory journalism in exploring the practice. If we're shifting to an era when "news is a conversation," then why not apply the same principle to research about the process?

To that end, we developed the idea of a chapter for each unit of the book called "Open Source," featuring interviews with experts in civic journalism about their thoughts on the field's evolution. The name "Open Source" came from the idea that not only the authors but the other contributors would supply interview questions, and also from the idea that comments about the completed interviews would be part of the final publication.

Well, the interviews have been done with with three individuals whose names should be recognizable to anyone familiar with civic and citizen journalism: Lewis Friedland of the University of Wisconsin, Tanni Haas of City College of New York and Jan Schaffer of J-Lab at American University. Lew was interviewed by telephone and Jan and Tanni replied in writing to a series of questions. And now comes the "open source" comment part of it: We have posted the interviews on a blog and hope to collect comments that will be incorporated into the published version of the book.

If you are interested in looking at and perhaps even commenting on these interviews, the blog with the transcripts and comment areas can be found at (You will need a free Blogspot account to make comments. If you don't have one, information about obtaining one can be found at the blog site.)

IMPORTANT NOTE: Please recognize that by making a comment you are authorizing its inclusion in the published book, and also be aware that we reserve the right to edit for clarity and space. Anonymous comments will be rejected.

We are hoping to wrap up this portion of the project by May 15, so the comments will be available until then. The questions developed with the help of our contributors are interesting, and the answers provided by Lew, Jan and Tanni are informative and illuminating. Please take a few minutes to check them out and add your voice to the conversation.

Jack Rosenberry
Burton St. John III
(If you have any questions, use e-mail link with our names at the right)

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Murdoch's newspaper sites will begin to charge users in a year

Rupert Murdoch, the would-be media plutocrat of $4 billion net worth, seems to be leading his media properties via two emerging strategies.

One, use citizen journalism when possible. Two, start to charge for Web content.

Breaking news all over again, via CNN today.
Media tycoon Rupert Murdoch expects News Corporation-owned newspaper Web sites to start charging users for access within a year in a move which analysts say could radically shake-up the culture of freely available content.
Murdoch's newspaper properties include the Wall Street Journal, the Weekly Standard, the New York Post (all in the United States), the Times and the Sun (both in the United Kingdom), and the Daily Telegraph, Herald Sun and the Australian (all down under).

The Wall Street Journal already charges $79 per year for much of its Web content -- it did so even before Murdoch's News Corporation purchased it in August of 2007. But the Journal is still available for free via the iPhone and BlackBerry -- which doesn't please Mr. Murdoch at all.

Also see: Stop giving away content via Web, Walter Isaacson advises media
: Fox News launches citizen journalism site
And: Mainstream media sites increasingly welcome citizen participation
And: Citizen journalism will complement "public media 2.0," says white paper
And: MySpace starts its own citizen journalism forum
A sustainable model emerges: Use collective intelligence but fact-check with journalists

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

New Kindle promises to kindle new cravings

Today in New York Amazon CEO Jeffrey P. Bezos launched the 9.7-inch-screen Kindle DX (for "deluxe"), the latest of the portable, personalizable content readers.

College students are clearly a target market.
Other than the increased size, the biggest improvement in the Kindle ecosystem is the deal with textbook publishers. The textbook market will be key for the DX to succeed. Amazon has already signed up three of the top five textbook publishers (Cengage Learning, Pearson, and Wiley) as well as 27 University Press Publishers. The Kindle DX will be used in trials with at least five universities this fall.
So are digital newspaper aficionados. The New York Times reports:
Amazon also said that three newspapers, The New York Times, The Boston Globe and The Washington Post, would offer a reduced price on the Kindle in exchange for a long-term subscription, but only for people who live in areas where their paper editions are not available. Amazon and the newspapers described it as a pilot program.
Meanwhile, Mark Glaser is at a symposium at the University of Missouri where "a group of newspapers and tech folks . . . are looking at how newspaper content might work on various e-readers like the Amazon Kindle."

Economics of delivering a newspaper on Kindle:

> Avg. file size = 1.2MB
> Bandwidth cost = .12 cents MB
> Selling price = $13.99 month
> Monthly bandwidth cost = $4.32

That eats into monthly cost of serving content into Kindle. So Amazon is probably losing money on some of the lower cost publications it sells. This cost doesn't even include advertising in the mix.
Mr. Glaser has a blog post about "the next generation of e-readers." Check it out. It's good stuff.

Also see: Could Kindle 2 save the newspapers?
Huffington counsels old media: Monetize links, don't try to sell exclusive content
And: What will the future newspaper look like?

Huffington counsels old media: Monetize links, don't try to sell exclusive content

Arianna Huffington, goddess of the Huffington Post, has called for "a distinction between saving journalism and saving newspapers."
Today we live in the linked economy, not a walled-off content economy. The challenge is to find different ways to monetize links among media through advertising or micropayment or whatever, not subscription for exclusive content. In this environment, good journalism will survive, and even flourish, though most newspapers--except for a handful of the very best papers and magazines in every national market -- probably will not. There will be more bottom up, citizen journalism, which is great.
For more check out this interview in the German weekly Die Welt.

Image courtesy of

Also see: Huffington Post's checklist of "citizen journalism publishing standards"
Newspaper layoffs zoom
Could Kindle 2 save the newspapers?
And: The one business Warren Buffett will not buy "at any price"
And: Fox launches a conservative counter to HuffPo
Finally: Walter Isaacson advises media to stop giving away content via Web

AllVoices giving cash incentives for high quality citizen journalism

Because "citizen journalism only works if the content is high quality," AllVoices is offering cash incentives until the end of the year.
Citizens, aspiring journalists, writers, bloggers, students, photographers and videographers from around the world . . . will be rewarded based on the quality of their submissions, response from the community and strength of their brand . . . in the following three categories:

First time or infrequent contributors in the process of building a social network based around their news. Stringers have tremendous potential to build their brand and make money by leveraging the Allvoices platform.
• Per 1,000 page views: $0.25
• Quality: No copyright violations (text or photos)
• Audience: Minimum of 10,000 views and 25 fans

Reporters generate a lot of attention to their contributions. People in their Allvoices social network respect a Reporter’s opinion and content.
• Per 1,000 page views: $1.00
• Quality: No copyright violations (text or photos)
• Audience: Minimum of 25,000 views and 50 fans

Anchors are contributors who have a tremendous following within the Allvoices community. Anchors exert influence beyond their social network, and their work is closely followed.
• Per 1,000 page views: $2.00
• Quality: No copyright violations (text or photos)
• Audience: Minimum of 100,000 views and 75 fans
More here.

Also see: AllVoices now accepts citizen contributions via SMS
And: AllVoices pioneers credibility ratings
And: AllVoices claims a leap in popularity

CCJIG bib updated with three dozen new titles

Consider your summer reading list ready.

Sue Ellen Christian, our group's veritable bibliographer, has updated her May 2008 listing with more than three dozen newly published titles relevant to public/participatory journalism.

The update, starting page 12, is available here (pdf, 85.3 kb).

On behalf of CCJIG I thank Sue Ellen for her generous effort given the many demands on her time.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Local TV stations are eager to step into closing newspapers' shoes

Closure of a newspaper means broadcasters in that market no longer have a traditional source of story ideas for later-in-the-day newscasts.

Hofstra University's journalism chair and former television journalist Bob Papper has been quoted to say, “There are any number of markets where newspapers don't set the news agenda.”

Instead, local television stations are stepping over one another to fill the newspapers' shoes.

Broadcasting & Cable deputy editor Michael Malone writes that Detroit's Fox-owned-and-operated WJBK station is sending out a 6 a.m. e-newsletter to inboxes hoping to replace the Detroit Free Press and Detroit News, both which have gone from daily home delivery to thrice a week.
As newspapers continue to ring up giant losses—Gannett, for one, saw its publishing revenue plummet 27% in the first quarter—it's the perfect time for stations to grab market share from their beleaguered print brethren. Some station sales staffs have been working local papers' demise into their sales pitches. . . .

“It's early to forecast, but we're already experiencing a revenue increase in broadcast,” says [WJBK general manager Jeff] Murri of Detroit's newspaper retrenchment. Retail outlets that relied on papers to promote date-specific sales, he says, still need to get the word out in a timely fashion.

Some CBS-owned stations have reorganized their creative services departments to help lure advertisers from newspapers. The departments pre-produce commercials featuring a potential advertiser to show the client how its goods look on television. “With newspapers shrinking, it's a good time to dig deeper in terms of where you get your accounts,” says WCBS New York President/General Manager Peter Dunn. “It's really helped us a lot.”

More here.

Also see: Detroit's newspapers cut home delivery from daily to thrice a week
Broadcast stations enlist college students as citizen reporters
And: Indian TV station offers prizes to citizen journalists for "news reality" programming

Four business models take root as online news goes hyperlocal

CNN producer John D. Sutter identifies four business models for online news to go hyperlocal -- by using donations from readers, by using volunteers, by going nonprofit, and by aggregating.

In order, he cities as examples,,, and

Mr. Sutter is hopeful as he discusses the future of hyperlocal journalism.
[T]he people who run hyperlocal Web sites say they are optimistic about the future of the news business. They say they won't be able to replace all that's being lost as large news companies crumble but say they are excited about the fact that they're able to offer something new -- at least for the moment.
Check out the story.

Also see: A sustainable model emerges: Use collective intelligence but fact-check with journalists
And: "Hyperlocal Web journalism meets civic, intellectual and social needs"
And: Mainstream media sites increasingly welcome citizen participation
And: Community blogs, "a new breed of watchdog"
And: Citizen journalism will complement "public media 2.0," says white paper
And: SPJ partners with Helium to champion citizen journalism
And: Citizen journalism is "all baloney," says Indian editor
Asia's social media use zooms

Newspaper layoffs zoom; more than 70 jobs lost every day

This year American newspapers are shedding jobs one-and-a-half times faster than they did in 2008.

Paper Cuts records that so far in 2009, nearly 8900 jobs have been lost to layoffs or buyouts -- that is more than 70 jobs per day.

In 2008, a total of nearly 16000 jobs were lost. In the latter half of 2007, 2112 were lost.

The rate has been unerringly incremental, and a ceiling is not in sight.

Summing up, since June of 2007 America's newspapers have shed about 27000 jobs.

A consolation, if at all, is that some other businesses are doing decidedly worse. For example in the first quarter of 2009 America's technology sector (much bigger than newspapers to begin with) shed more than 84000 jobs.

The Audit Bureau of Circulations reported that at the end of March 2009 newspaper circulations were on average 7 per cent lower than a year ago.

Meanwhile here's what a co-founder of the Huffington Post, Kenneth Lerer, said at the Columbia Journalism School:

“The future of journalism is not dependent upon the future of newspapers.” He suggested that newspapers and magazines had failed to adapt because they were imprisoned by their own success . . .

Also see: Could Kindle 2 save the newspapers?
And: The one business Warren Buffett will not buy "at any price"

Monday, May 4, 2009

Could Kindle 2 save the newspapers?

In a couple of days Amazon will launch a new big-screen ("reads like paper") Kindle 2 operating on an automatic 3G network.

Amazon offers Kindle subscriptions of 58 periodicals including the Wall Street Journal, Newsweek and the New York Times.

Putting two and two together, Brad Stone of the New York Times wonders if the Kindle might turn out to be a knight in digital armor. Perhaps it could save newspapers. Perhaps newspapers could use the Kindle to
"hit the reset button and return in some form to their original business model: selling subscriptions, and supporting their articles with ads."
More here.

Picture courtesy of RedOrbit

Also see: The one American business Buffett won't buy "any any price"
Journalism's future may lie in multimedia
Scholars call for tax credit for buying newspapers
: Should the newspaper industry get a bailout?
And: A sustainable model emerges: Use collective intelligence but fact-check with journalists
And finally: Can selling news via the Web save newspapers?

The one American business Warren Buffett will not buy "at any price"

As a 13-year-old in 1943, one of Warren Buffett's first jobs was to deliver newspapers.

Thirty years later, the Warren Buffet-owned Omaha Sun became the first weekly ever to win a Pulitzer.

Today, what is the one American business Mr. Buffett says he will not buy "at any price"? Newspapers.
[Mr. Buffett's] view on the future of the newspaper industry is dismal. "For most newspapers in the United States, we would not buy them at any price," he said. "They have the possibility of going to just unending losses."

As long as newspapers were essential to readers, they were essential to advertisers, he said. But news is now available in many other venues, he said.

More Mr. Buffet at a Berkshire Hathaway shareholders meeting.

Image courtesy of BusinessWeek

Also read: A sustainable model emerges: Use collective intelligence but fact-check with journalists
And: Can selling news via the Web save newspapers?
Newspapers' closure adversely affects political engagement, study finds
And: Newspapers, a pillar of civic journalism
And: Scholars call for tax credit for buying newspapers
finally: Should the newspaper industry get a bailout?

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Indian editor says citizen journalism is "all baloney"

Shekhar Gupta, editor-in-chief of the Indian Express, has scoffed at citizen journalism as "all baloney."
"Show me a citizen lawyer or a citizen doctor and I'll show you citizen journalists."
Instead, Mr. Gupta says, a "golden age" would dawn for India's legacy media thanks to a younger crop of "competent, digitally-savvy journalists" who valued "accuracy, fairness, and credibility."

Mr. Gupta, who is popular for hosting a quirky televised interview show in which he strolls outdoors with his interviewee, was addressing convoking students of the Indian Institute of Journalism & New Media in Bangalore on Saturday.

Find a report here.

Picture courtesy of

Update 05/04/09: Not exactly "citizen lawyer/doctor" but CNN today runs a story on the growing tribe of "citizen scientists"

Also see: Asia's social media use zooms
And: Can citizen journalism restore a sense of autonomy?
And: Criminal charge slapped on Orkut activist in India
And: Some thoughts on citizen journalism and Mumbai
And: Community blogs, "a new breed of watchdog"
And: Citizen journalism will complement "public media 2.0," says white paper
And: Hyperlocal Web journalism meets "civic, intellectual and social needs"
Finally (*phew!*): A sustainable model emerges: Use collective intelligence but fact-check with journalists

"Newspapers are the principal pillar of civic journalism"

Ian E. Wilson, the recently retired Librarian and Archivist of Canada, tells Randy Boswell of Canwest News Service that there is
something more in reading a newspaper -- with the stories juxtaposed piece by piece on a page. It's not just the headline, it's the ad, it's the comic strip, it's the news, it's the analysis, it's the coming events. It's the totality of that -- seeing the whole community.
Mr. Wilson has an opinion about blogs vis-à-vis civic journalism.
"Good journalism is essential, fundamental to any society, and we can't expect it's going to happen through blogs," [Mr. Wilson] says.

Wilson sees newspapers as the principal pillar of civic journalism, the wellspring of news and influence and opinion-shaping for all other information purveyors. "The kind of investigative, background material" found in newspapers, says Wilson, along with agenda-setting, enterprise reporting and "analysis and interpretation providing context to today's news is, I think, a role that absolutely must continue."

More here.

Picture courtesy of Jean Levac

Also see: Civic journalism as CCJIG defines it

"10 worst countries to be a blogger"

The New York headquartered Committee to Protect Journalists has posted a list of the "10 worst countries to be a blogger."

Feel free to check out the list. Feel free to feel outraged. Feel free to feel helpless.

So how did CPJ pick the ten from the world's 195 independent countries?

In consultation with Internet experts, CPJ developed eight questions to assess blogging conditions worldwide. The questions:

  • Does a country jail bloggers?
  • Do bloggers face harassment, cyber-attacks, threats, assaults, or other reprisals?
  • Do bloggers self-censor to protect themselves?
  • Does the government limit connectivity or restrict access to the Internet?
  • Are bloggers required to register with the government or an ISP and give a verifiable name and address before blogging?
  • Does a country have regulations or laws that can be used to censor bloggers?
  • Does the government monitor citizens who use the Internet?
  • Does the government use filtering technology to block or censor the Internet?

Based on these criteria, CPJ regional experts nominated countries for this list. The final ranking was determined by a poll of CPJ staff and outside experts.

The "worst" list here.

Also read: Pew study contrasts blogs v. legacy media sites v. citizen sites
And: Community blogs, "a new breed of watchdog"
And: Citizen journalism will complement "public media 2.0," says white paper
And: Hyperlocal Web journalism meets "civic, intellectual and social needs"
Finally: A sustainable model emerges: Use collective intelligence but fact-check with journalists

Press freedom in dire straits the world over, U.N. expresses concern for journalists

Sunday May 3 is World Press Freedom Day.

Only 17 per cent of the world's population lives with a press completely free of government/party control.

According to a Freedom House survey released today, the times grew tougher for press freedom across the world in 2008 for a seventh year in a row.

The muzzling of the press is "particularly worrisome" in countries of "East Asia, the former Soviet Union and the Middle East and North Africa."

The worst rated countries continue to include Burma, Cuba, Eritrea, Libya, North Korea and Turkmenistan. In the Americas, 2008 saw a downward spiral of press freedom in Mexico, Bolivia, Ecuador, Guatemala and Nicaragua.

Of 195 countries/territories surveyed,
70 (36 percent) are rated Free, 61 (31 percent) are rated Partly Free and 64 (33 percent) are rated Not Free. This represents a modest decline from the 2008 survey in which 72 countries and territories were Free, 59 Partly Free and 64 Not Free.
Must-see details here.

In response, United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon spoke (via an aide) in concern for journalists in New York today.
[A]ttacks on journalists remain shockingly high in number and . . . murder and detention are only the most blatant ways that journalists are silenced. Often . . . fear leads journalists to censor themselves. . . . [S]ome Governments are suppressing Internet access and the work of Internet-based journalists and others using the “new media”. . . .

Let us renew our resolve to protect their freedom and safety . . . and . . . proclaim again our commitment to free and independent media as an essential agent of human rights, development and peace.
How many journalists were killed in harness? 41 in 2008, according to the New York based Committee to Protect Journalists. And 11 in 2009 so far.

According to the CPJ "some 45 percent of all media workers jailed worldwide are bloggers," to which Mr. Ban said,
I urge all governments to respect the rights of these citizen journalists, who may lack the legal resources or political connections that might assist them in gaining their freedom.
But there's a silver lining, as always. While the Freedom House study records "twice as many losses [for press freedom] as gains in 2008, with declines and stagnation in East Asia of particular concern" it also reports some regions have made good on their history.
The Maldives made the study's largest jump, moving to the Partly Free category with the adoption of a new constitution protecting freedom of expression and the release of a prominent journalist from life imprisonment. Guyana regained its Free rating with fewer attacks on journalists and a government decision to lift a boycott on advertising in the main independent newspaper.

Ban Ki-Moon portrait courtesy of the United Nations

Also see: "Public journalism has created an extra-press authority"
And: Criminal charge slapped on Orkut activist in India
And: Asia's social media use zooms
And: Can citizen journalism restore a sense of autonomy?
And: Pulitzers, a humbling experience for Internet journalists
And finally: A sustainable model emerges: Use collective intelligence but fact-check with journalists

Friday, May 1, 2009

Can watchdog Netizens bark or bite outside of the Internet?

Some twelve years ago Ronda Hauben and son Michael co-wrote a pathbreaking book which introduced the notional "Netizen."

Today Ms. Hauben has posted a thought-provoking comment, culled from a 2008 lecture based on the book, at the pioneering citizen journalism site OhMyNews. Check it out.
[Michael] Hauben explained that those in government will abuse their power if they are allowed to do so. He proposed that "people need to keep a watch over those in government in order to make sure they are working in the interests of the many."

The question raised, then, is whether the Net and Netizen are able to have an impact on the offline world, on the power of government and of the mainstream media.
More here.

Picture courtesy of

Also see: "Hyperlocal Web journalism meets civic, intellectual and social needs"
And: Mainstream media sites increasingly welcome citizen participation
And: Community blogs, "a new breed of watchdog"
And: Citizen journalism will complement "public media 2.0," says white paper
Finally: A sustainable model emerges: Use collective intelligence but fact-check with journalists

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Pew study contrasts citizen sites v. blogs v. sites tied to legacy media

Pew's State of the News Media 2009 survey examines, among other things, "363 journalism sites in 46 markets (145 citizen journalism sites and 218 tied to commercial media)."

Led by professors Margaret Duffy, Esther Thorson, Stephen Lacy and Daniel Riffe the study compares citizen news blogs, citizen news sites, and sites tied to legacy media.

It finds
[C]lear differences between citizen blogs that primarily offer commentary (along with links to already reported information) and a new array of citizen news sites that also do original reporting. The broader citizen news sites were more interactive, more transparent and more likely to use citizen content. Blogs, while easy to create and set up, were much more limited and less open. Even legacy media now surpass blogs in many of the characteristics that citizen media were once supposed to represent.

Among the findings:
  • Blogs were the least the likely to allow citizens to contribute — even to post comments or e-mail the site. The leaders in such interactivity were citizen news sites.

  • Legacy media excelled in creating innovative ways for people to download or receive content.

  • Legacy sites were also the most transparent about their policies and expectations for users.

  • One area where legacy media trailed both citizen blogs and news sites was in providing links within their news stories to outside material. Legacy sites were more than twice as likely as citizen sites to offer no links to outside material.

  • On the other hand, the citizen sites linked to legacy news sites twice as often as legacy sites linked to citizen sites, with the citizen sites using the legacy sites as their “news” source.

The nature of the content on the three types of sites varied fairly sharply. Legacy sites provided the greatest percent of news (89%), close to double that of citizen news sites (56%), and three times that of blog content (27%).

More here.

Wordcloud courtesy of Alfred Hermida

Also see:
"I'll believe in the triumph of citizen journalism when I see it"