Friday, June 25, 2010

Getting to Know Your CCJIG Officers

A Question and Answer Session
By Anne Golden Worsham
CCJIG Secretary

In a series of e-mail interviews, this year's officers of the Civic & Citizen Journalism Interest Group shared some details about how they became interested in the field, and some personal information as well:

Mary Beth Callie (Interest Group Chair)

My passion for all things “civic” is likely rooted in the fact that I was born on the Fourth of July, just outside Philadelphia. I grew up fascinated by early American history and the Bicentennial. Later on, through my doctoral work in Media Studies and Public Policy, I would begin to connect the ideals of civic republicanism, participatory democracy, and the “common good” with questions abut the role of the media in a democracy. Through historical and case study analysis, I examined the deep structure of corporate capitalism, and how privatized control of the broadcast airwaves was/is framed in terms of the “public interest.”
My passion for civic and citizen journalism can also be traced by my work on citizen’s campaign for comprehensive mass transit campaign in Tucson. This experience taught me a lot about the need for a citizen engaged press that supports community problem-solving.

Dessert greatest temptation and random fact

Soft homemade chocolate chip cookies, or the dough, with a glass of milk.
My dad’s cousin, Del Callie, has owned Callie’s Candy Kitchen in the Pennyslvania Pocono mountains for almost 60 years. It was, and still is, a favorite family vacation destination for me and my siblings.

Deborah S. Chung
(Co-Vice Chair and Programming Chair)

How did you get interested in civic and citizen journalism?

While working on my doctoral degree at Indiana University and pondering dissertation ideas in 2001 and 2002, I became increasingly fascinated in the concept of interactivity and audience participation. I had been formerly interested in the core ideals of civic journalism and saw the link with technology and citizens as promise for the future of journalism and potential for a thriving democratic society. I see online news publications as places and spaces that can offer more egalitarian opportunities for audiences to participate in civic life and become more actively engaged citizens. As my research interests focus on the changing dynamics between communication professionals and their audiences through emergent information communication technologies (ICTs) and specifically in the context of online news, I saw a tremendous opportunity in pursuing this line of research that could meaningfully contribute to our understanding of the potentially changing definitions and boundaries of journalism.

Share a random fact about yourself:

I am an American Idol fan, especially for seasons 1, 2, 3, 6 and most definitely 8. I have dialed in 500 + times for the contestants I deemed worthy of winning the title. I saved all numbers on speed dial each time (my phone, husband’s phone, home phone). Just love participatory culture!

Kirsten A. Johnson (Co-Vice Chair)

How did you get interested in civic and citizen journalism?

I became interested in citizen journalism in 2004 while I was a doctoral student at Drexel University in Philadelphia. As I was searching for dissertation topics I became very interested in blogging and how journalists were using this tool to tell stories. While researching journalistic blogging I stumbled across the work of Shayne Bowman and Chris Willis. After reading “We Media” it became clear to me that citizen journalism would be the focus of my dissertation. Since completing my dissertation in 2007 I have continued to do research in this area, specifically in the area of markers of credibility on citizen journalism web sites.

Which dessert is the greatest temptation for you?

My husband’s homemade chocolate covered marshmallows are my greatest temptation. It’s great being married to a chocolate maker!

Glenn Scott (Research Chair)

How did you get interested in citizen journalism?

Before my mid-career move into higher education, I worked as a newspaper journalist, mainly as a full-time metro columnist for a daily paper. In that role, I enjoyed a ton of traditional-styled interaction with readers by talking on the phone, shooting cards through the mail, and meeting people at events and speeches. Metro columnists give a lot of speeches; every club and service group needs a program. I've never understood the conceit that journalists work apart from non-journalists. Almost all we do -- and all we know -- is concocted from shared human experience and communication. So when I became a researcher -- and as digitization was serving to reshape journalism -- I had a practiced interest in considering how news organizations might widen communication flows with readers (or users) to enrich the process of newsmaking.
All this means I first approached the practices of civic and citizen journalism from the production side. My initial questions dealt with why and how news organizations are widening discourse with interested consumers, and with what effect. Now I'm also eager to learn more about initiatives that begin outside traditional newsrooms and that might, at some point, intersect with the practices of professional news workers. This is clearly a growth area, and I'd encourage interested researchers to see what you might explore.

Which dessert is the greatest temptation for you?

Vanilla ice cream on a hot brownie. Willing to share.

Sue Ellen Christian
(Teaching Chair)
How did you get interested in civic and citizen journalism?
When I left full-time journalism for academia, I was looking for projects involving creative activity. I found my inspiration through a grant that provided me with the financial support and vision to launch diversity-related community journalism projects that teamed up undergraduate journalism students with a local public high school newspaper staff. My interest in civic journalism and promoting coverage of unique community issues grew from there.
Share a random fact about yourself:/
I love Cocoa-Puffs but hate Apple Jacks, and enjoy doing pottery.

Jack Rosenberry (Newsletter Editor; chair 2007-2008)

How did you get interested in civic and citizen journalism?

In my case, it came about through my desire to find something related to online, interactive journalism for a dissertation topic circa 2003. As I read about what was going on in the field, the idea occurred to me that interactive, audience-engaged journalism and civic engagement were two closely related topics. When I attended an AEJMC pre-conference in Toronto in 2004 organized by Len Witt and co-sponsored by the (then) Civic Journalism Interest Group (now CCJIG), the ideas really started to coalesce for me. A few months later I proposed a dissertation topic built around the idea of how legacy media could use their interactive online sites to improve civic engagement; the actual title of the resulting dissertation was “The Fourth Estate in the Networked Age: A Framework for Online Public Affairs Coverage.” I’ve been involved with CCJIG ever since, and the ideas built into the dissertation have framed my ongoing research since then as well.

Share a random fact about yourself:

As a big National Hockey League fan (and especially Buffalo Sabres fan) I am disappointed to see the end of the NHL season and already looking forward to the beginning of the next one in October. PS: Congrats to the Blackhawks and their fans. It was a great run for the franchise and the city of Chicago.

Anne Golden Worsham (Secretary)

How did you get interested in civic and citizen journalism?

My first newspaper editor was one of my greatest teachers. He strongly believed in citizen, civic and community journalism and inculcated these values into the minds and souls of the journalists working under him. He valued the written contributions of citizens, as he felt that this was part of the civic conversation that brought understanding to different factions in the community. He was excited about the civic dialogue occurring on the newspaper’s website. He also felt that the newspaper should be a problem solver for the community and a source of civic conversation and storytelling. My editor felt that a good newspaper article could be the dialogue that should be happening in the community but often wasn’t occurring because of misunderstandings and partisanship. I worked for the newspaper for several years as a journalist and an editor and then pursued my master’s and doctoral degrees. Throughout my professional and academic career I have carried this value system with me.

Which dessert is the greatest temptation for you?

I have a weakness for Swedish fish. Also, my husband makes wonderful desserts and I have trouble resisting his blueberry cobblers, dessert crepes and trifles.