While interning at the State Department in 2005, Rachel Sterne watched Kofi Annan plead with the Security Council to stop the madness in Darfur and saw nothing happening. The classic next move in a situation like that would’ve probably involved buying a supportive “Save Darfur” t-shirt and turning genocide into her go-to talking point for dinner parties.
But for Sterne, who had just received her BA from New York University and was, no doubt, full of that particular brand of youthful idealism that makes problems seem scalable, that didn’t seem like enough. Her belief that “there was no public pressure about Darfur because the public didn’t have a personal connection with the issue” plagued her, inspiring the founding of GroundReport.com in the summer of 2007. An open source global news site that shares revenue with its far-flung network of 4,000 citizen reporters, GroundReport has been called “the Wikipedia of news.” Its professed goal is to democratize the media by making original, intelligent reporting possible for amateurs and professionals alike. More importantly though, the site produces international news at a fraction of the cost of the mainstream media by relying on the locals for coverage.
Though still in its infancy, the start up site has already garnered a decent amount of attention. Early on interviews with CNNMoney.com have since been superceded by features in Business Week, which recently named Sterne one of its Top 25 Social Entrepreneurs. Similarly promising are content partnerships with the likes of The Huffington Post and Mogulus.
Given the journalism world’s recent and widespread adoption of the Throwing Spaghetti At A Wall and Seeing What Sticks, this attention comes as no surprise. Because while the concept of using a worldwide network of reporters to cover international news is nothing revolutionary, GroundReport’s reliance on citizens and its willingness to share the profit with them is something of a new experiment. Continue reading
The Huffington Post is just decided to dedicate $1.75million to investigative reporting. They’re not quite sure exactly where they’ll spend it yet, or on whom, but say it’s definitely happening. In preparation for this little experiment and in the wake of the successes (and a few failures) of HuffPost’s Off The Bus project, the site just released it’s list of Citizen Journalism Publishing Standards.
I’m excited about what they’re doing with their investigative reporting project, but mother of god, the most common sense, boring list ever. Honestly, it almost makes me question citizen journalism in general the the HuffPost expects to be receiving posts from people who don’t even understand that web content should include links and may be edited by, well, editors. Is this just the HuffPost assuming we’re idiots or are wannabe journalists actually dumb enough to need these reminders?
Photo: Flickr CC
Ask Amra Tareen why she founded AllVoices.com, a massive exercise in global citizen journalism, and she’ll tell you it’s because she’s not a terrorist.
This is not the non sequitur it seems. Her answer derives from annoyance over a misperception she still feels. “The mainstream media is so biased,” she explained. “After 9/11, they made it sound like all Muslims are terrorists. I’m a Muslim, My kids are Muslims; we’re not terrorists. Everyone has a bias. Editors have a bias. I have a bias. So I thought the only way to fix this is to get all the voices out there.”
AllVoices.com — Tareen’s answer to closed, controlled traditional media — launched in July 2008 with the goal of including as many people as possible. If Tareen had her way, the AllVoices community would be all six billion people on earth. But within a site that aims to be global and all-inclusive in its scope and membership, a curious thing is happening. Even with free rein in topic choice, Tareen tells us that many of AllVoices’ contributors are choosing very specific beats and becoming mini experts within the larger framework of the massive site.
“Individual people are very consistent usually and the topics they like to report about are very consistent,” she said. “We’re creating a ton of little experts.” Continue reading
Roundup of recent rends in journalism. Worth a read:
Ad Revenue Pain Meets the Multiplier Effect– Poynter Online by Rick Edmonds- 3/4/09
Write up about Morgan Stanley tech analyst Mark Meeker’s predictions of newspaper ad spending over the next couple of years. Out looks is grim, with the potential for continued, increased decline until the end of the current recession. At that point, Meeker thinks there’ll be a noticeable bounce back.
NYT wants to build and spread a platform for local journalism; sees business model in ‘placeblogosphere’– Nieman Journalism Lab- 3/5/09
The New York Times’ incubator project in hyper-local blogging, “The Local,” will never make money. And this isn’t some fatalistic prediction by Nieman’s Harvard Journalism boys, it’s straight from the mouth of Jim Schachter, the editor of digital initiatives at The Times. Yet another case of lots of content and no one to buy it.
Twitter for Newshounds– Poynter Online by Amy Gahran- 7/9/08
The use of Twitter by journalists has been something of a buzz topic lately. Here Gahran looks at its myriad uses from linking to crowdsourcing.
*And now, those of you who aren’t grading me are going to want to back away from the jump on this one. Actually, the linked articles are generally pretty legit, it’s the annotation that may result in severe boredom. In my defense, this is part of a future research paper and I’d rather not have to remove dumb ass e-phrasing later. Promise I’ll get back to regular posting this weekend. Continue reading
Barely two years ago, everyone from Nicholas Lehmann, to Vincent Maher, was criticizing the practice of citizen journalism. (Lehman here).
The thing is, the blogosphere and the citizen journalism so inherent in its survival is not nearly so useless and unprincipled as old journalism zealots would have us believe. “The pros may be in a better position to excel at those practices but they do not “own” them,” writes Jay Rosen on his blog, Press Think.
The argument that citizen journalists are useless and without news ethics sounds ridiculous in a world where a couple hundred million blogs claim a collective couple billion readers a day. If blogs and citizen journalism were a product with no interested consumers, they would be dying off, not multiplying exponentially year by year.
Yes, a huge number of these sites take a personal track, but there are also those maintained, for example, by blast survivors in Mumbai who Flickr-ed, twittered and blogged in info (like pic. above) about the 60 hours of mayhem that comes with terrorist attacks. Similarly useful to the public were Twitter pic posts of a certain Hudson-drifting American Airlines plane were posted mere minutes after it went down.
So you tell me: is there really no merit to be found in citizen journalism?