Collaborative Citizen Journalism
Citizen-based journalism initiatives are not just citizen blogs, but rather more sophisiticated attempts to create an alternative form of journalism. There are 3 main types: local news ventures, based on local communities, such as backfence.com; broadly-focused sites such as OhMyNews; and collaborative vetting services where groups of people check articles from the mainstream press.
Definition of Collaborative Citizen Journalism
" It's called collaborative citizen journalism (CCJ), where ordinary citizens band together on the Web to write original stories and critique mainstream media stories, using the Internet to connect with each other and to make sure their thoughts reach the public. This new form of journalism differs from its more popular blogging cousin in that, unlike blogging, which eschews (in many cases) the more rigorous elements of journalism, collaborative media efforts tap into a particular community to make sure a story is as complete as possible." (http://technologyreview.com/articles/05/05/wo/wo_052005hellweg.asp )
The concept of a self-informing public is mentioned in http://journalism.nyu.edu/pubzone/weblogs/pressthink/2004/12/28/tptn04_opsc.html
"OhmyNews is a kind of 'fantastic mix' of the citizen reporters and professional reporters," Oh told the audience. "It has 35,000 citizen reporters and 40 staff reporters whose reporting style is very similar to professional journalists. So they are in charge of the straight news and investigations." (http://english.ohmynews.com/articleview/article_view.asp?article_class=8&no=201599&rel_no=1)
Similar initiatives are WikiNews, which is based on a collective 'vetting' of news articles, at http://en.wikinews.org/wiki/Main_Page ; also see News Trust as another vetting cooperative, at http://en.wikinews.org/wiki/Main_Page ; Indymedia: http://indymedia.org ; Take Back the News, http://www.takebackthenews.com/ ; In France, see http://www.agoravox.fr/
Key Book to Read
Book on citizen-based journalism:
We the Media: Grassroots Journalism By the People For the People by Dan Gillmor 299pp, O'Reilly
From a review
"He tells us of OhMyNews.com in South Korea, which has 15,000 "citizen reporters" filing news and comment; and of wikipedia, the online encyclopedia where anyone can write or edit an article, which now has more than one million articles in more than 100 languages. He tells us about bloggers who have bigger audiences than many newspapers, and who have become just as influential as any specialist journalist in their sector. How Russ Kirk of the alternative news site The Memory Hole used the freedom of information act to get photos of dead US soldiers being brought back from Iraq in flag-draped caskets into the public domain; and how bloggers swarmed together to claim the scalp of Trent Lott, the majority leader in the US Senate, after he appeared to wax nostalgic for a racist past at a fellow senator's birthday dinner. Gillmor tells of his own experience as a columnist on the San Jose Mercury, starting to write a blog and dealing with comments and criticisms from his readers, who, he claims, "have made me a better journalist, because they find my mistakes, tell me what I'm missing and help me understand nuances". (http://books.guardian.co.uk/reviews/politicsphilosophyandsociety/0,6121,1344544,00.html)
Backfence is based on the concept that local news was just a neighbour's fence away, and is now possible again on a global scale, see http://www.backfence.com/what_we_re_doing.html
See also the report: We Media. How audiences are shaping the future of news and information. Written by Shayne Bowman and Chris Willis. Edited by J.D. Lasica. Available via the Hypergene weblog for PDF download, at http://www.hypergene.net/wemedia/weblog.php .This report describes the emergence of participatory journalism, following the new rule of ‘publish, then filter’ rather than ‘filter, then publish’.
Steve Outing is one of the most keen observers of the scene, here’s an overview of ‘varieties of citizen journalism: http://www.poynter.org/content/content_view.asp?id=83126
Open source video documentaries i.e. audiovisual citizen journalism, at http://cyberie.qc.ca/jpc/2005/08/aprs-les-journalistes-citoyens-les.html