Digital Newsmedia Group Two
The Internet and the rise of online media has fundamentally changed the way that we think about it. The viral-nature of cyberspace goes hand-in-hand with online media allowing a reach far wider than print media ever had, stimulating quick discover and rapid news release. The paradigm we have witnessed over the last decade or so has been a shift from traditional print news sources to a similar online version - representing a top-down approach. This gradually led to bottom-up material as blogs, social media, and participatory journalism came into effect - completely changing how news has been reviewed.
Traditionally news has been a methodology by which the populace would become educated via the transfer of facts and other knowledge. Although this continues to remain consistent, we have had the significant introduction of opinion-y media, stimulating a "marketplace of ideas" and "entertainment." The blogosphere has exploded with personal reporting of topics anywhere from individuals' lives to international terrorism. Social Media has led to Twitter statuses about current events in the Middle East and Iran. Participatory commentary on reputed news stories has spurred controversy in the most basic of articles. More and more claims of defamation have been filed, debates on censorship and adherence to certain standards applies to "bloggers" have initiated, and most importantly - an effort to identify a real problem by the advent of this "Citizen Journalism" has been struggled with.
Investigative Journalism, or the in-depth, multi-sourced, and original reporting of processes, not events, that are of interest because they are oftentimes secrets that have been uncovered, was traditionally the sole reference when The Freedom of the Press was written in the Bill of Rights.
A Short History of Online Participatory Journalism
- OReilly We Media book and more.
- Public Journalism 2.0
- NYTimes Rosen Article
- Next Newsroom Project
- Nieman Journalism Lab
Working Definitions? Don't want to focus too much on terminology; seems to have moved the debate into less productive territory (see below). Some blurring; increasing numbers of traditionally trained journalists participating in less traditional fora. But see story from China where identified unpopular people and found identifying information on where they live etc.
Citizen Participatory Journalism does not have a concrete definition due to the sheer breadth of the concept. It involves the everyday citizen / the audience in some way or the other - either as a brand new entity or as a part of an existing. By this, it is clear that meer participation by commenting or reviewing existing articles is still considered "Participatory Journalism." However, more commonly, is the writing of blog posts, the submission of photos or videos, or the creation of a new "thread" - articles which further citizens can comment upon, or can be picked up by a top-down news media organization. In either one of these scenarios, the citizen is adding something new, thereby classifying it as "journalism," or indicating a new angle on something else. The mere statement of opinions is not considered participatory journalism because no research of clear points-of-view are expressed.
Many argue as to the standards that citizens journalists are held accountable for. Regular journalistic ethics revolve around diligence in research, non-defamatory articles, accuracy in statements, and relevant news leading to the enhancement of knowledge among citizens. These standards are enforced in top-down news systems by very defined repercussions to the individual and the news agency he/she is a part of. However, with bloggers - these consequences do not exist, and therefore, the journalistic standards, although ideal, are not met many a times. It is very optimistic to simply state that in the future they can be held accountable for these standards, however, there is no method of enforcement with the magnanimity of the current citizen journalism sphere.
- Sense of failure by traditional media
- Financial crisis in traditional media. http://www.ojr.org/ojr/people/stverak/201003/1830/ -- http://www.ourblook.com/The-Media/The-Rise-of-the-Citizen-Journalism.html
- Local newspapers struggling; ensure local news available
Current Focus and Debate
- http://www.cyberjournalist.net/why-twitter-matters-for-media-organisations/#more-5715 Why Twitter Matters for Media Orgs
But spectrum from "fact" to "opinion"; both traditional and new participatory media along entire range; "fact" useful for . If less "objective," doesn't necessarily make it without value, or even without traditional analog. Suggests may be more of a labeling issue. Community of self-styled participatory media may develop norms / codes, either on own or import from journalism, in order to alleviate some of the problems (e.g. wikipedia). If concerned about labeling problem, really a "passing off" issue, but people may take articles with grain of salt — passing of not an issue until people are actually confused. Want to shift the focus a little.
Breakdown and a Rough Taxonomy
Perhaps because its proponents most visibly identify as "journalists" and therein raise the hackles of traditional, trained journalists, much of the normative debate has focused on those sites that allow individuals to act completely as "news gatherers": identifying a story that they think is newsworthy, going out into the world and collecting facts, analyzing those facts, and writing and publishing a story.
|Traditional||Sometimes coming up with an idea and deciding whether newsworth is unnecessary, for example when reactively reporting something big that happened||Newspaper / TV|
Participatory journalism can be seen as special case of Crowdsourcing, but more interesting because both sides self-consciously interact with the other. Where does the benefit of the "crowd" come in? Analogy to law / fact; really in the analysis (mixed question of law and fact) that is key to providing something useful.
Examples demonstrating different paradigms for shifting and sharing responsibilities for different parts of the process
- Commenting on news articles; each participant can then "re-analyze" the facts and make own conclusions
Allows the everyday citizen to submit article "tips"/"ideas" which are then distributed to partnering top-down news organizations. Upon interest from journalists there, the ideas are pitched and funded by citizens on Spot.Us. Represents a way that top-down and bottom-up journalism converge.
- CNN iReport (quite bottom-up, but meshes with top-down)
People can share stories or opinions based on prompts that they create or prompts that are provided. Based on the most votes and what reports are considered the best, CNN uses them on their external platforms like live news and their main news portal. A majority of the topics provided are not at the forefront of pressing events - current topics (12/19/10) include stories of "wintery weather" and "Travel Shots of Mexico."
- Eleven Layers
- Sourcewatch List of Websites
- Sourcewatch wiki page on Citizen Journalism
- OReilly We Media book
- CNN iReport
- Spot.us (crowd funding)
- Six Journalism Startups
- E Pluribus Media
- J Lab
- Citi Media Law
A Closer Look at One Box
Why this box? Interesting because definitely one stage where people do not have to consciously self-identify as participants in the journalism process. Just going to the airport and tweeting to complain, but can be valuable "news" for someone deciding when to leave. What are implications of leveraging information when not necessarily provided for that purpose? Some cross-over with Crowdsourcing?
Potential Problem: Fact Verification / News Creation
Using facts gathered: how do you fact check? Limit by news topic; no real reason for anyone to lie about, e.g. lines at Boston Logan or Comcast cable being down, but be wary of exploitation by, e.g., governments without much freedom of press when aware that look to twitter stream for information. To whose benefit is it to cast doubt on integrity of information? Relationship between journalist and source; shift? Implications of lack of personal connection?
Sense of video / pictures as indisputable "fact," but not necessarily true either; at least for a while, allows exploitation, see ACORN scandal.
ACORN Scandal: The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now was "infiltrated" by James O'Keefe - a 25 year old filmmaker. He dressed as a pimp and with a woman nicknamed "Kenya," he approached ACORN individuals asking for housing and advice on continuing a prostitution service. The ACORN individuals readily helped, and the whole scene being secretly videotaped was released on the internet by O'Keefe for the public to view. ACORN as a result had many employees fired and sued O'Keefe for defamation. See Investigation Video for ACORN
Is the solution just for "trusted" news sources not to rely on it? But then how can they compete (see rush to be first).
Taking a Step Back
Any real distinction? Law of the horse where everything is the horse?
Rush to be First
News and Entertainment
No separation of message type vs. "the 6:00 news with So-and-So"
Place for Truth?
Academia: search for truth valued even where no market; sometimes "we" ought to support something even if no market for it Epistemic paralysis: can't remember where things came from because swimming in information
Shared experiences? "Balkanization of media consumption" (Sunstein?) Seal for those willing to open notes? (Lessig)