Wednesday, March 08, 2006
FYI ONLY: A reading from an early practitioner of "citizen journalism"
The post below is from Jill Lang, the former editor of VillageSoup.com,
the online news community in Camden, Maine, which we profile at
MediaGiraffe.org. She offers thoughts about the state of journalism.
---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Wed, 8 Mar 2006 19:00:26 -0500
From: Jill Lang <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: Bill Densmore <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: Citizen Journalism discussion
The more I think about this, the more I go back to the way I saw my work in the
early days at VillageSoup: We were rewriting the rules about producing local
news and interacting with the community and everyone else had a lot of catching
up to do. I think they're not rewriting the rules so much now at the Soup as
trying, desperately, to make money. But everyone still has catching up to do,
at least with the philosophy we operated by.
I also believe the focus of commentary about CitJ -- the focus on the 'big
boys' -- the big metro dailies -- is the wrong focus. The revolution is at the
local level. It's happening now, and gaining steam, though it's hard to say how
much steam (simply because from my perch here in Hope, Maine, I don't know for
sure). It won't take as long as it took to get from Ben Franklin to the
Internet, but it might take a little longer than it's taken to get from 1998,
say, to now. Even still, it's the community bulletin board-type places where
Citizens link up now and will continue to link up. I'm not into hero workship,
but I have to say: Newmark is the Man. Or maybe it's man with a lower-case
letter, because the revolution wouldn't have it the other way.
What else? Randomly: There's too much emphasis on trying to define community
instead of simply celebrating that it exists. (Is this Pollyanna? I don't
care.) There's too much thinking about what's journalism and what's not. Label
what's produced by the professionals on the payroll. Label the other stuff.
Just label it accurately and without bias.
Newspapers, large and small, should follow Battelle's example and use their
websites to become aggregators of community news, blogs, etc. and then let the
readers decide what they want to look at. And what they want to discuss.
Letting 'the people' decide what they want to read and what they want to
discuss is hard for many in the Profession of Journalism, where they're used to
being the arbiters of taste and politics. Let the people decide. The kind of
thing Ben Franklin or Thomas Jefferson would love. A printing press on every
desktop, in every laptop. Everywhere. A new kind of free press.
Enough rambling for now,