April 24, 2010
Participatory Journalism: How the old passive audience of mass media is becoming the new active communities of online media
Jan Schaffer, J-Lab, American University
– There are new players in the news ecosystem: fact entrepreneurs, creative technologists, citizen media makers, etc.
– Journalism is collecting and validating the news, but “news work” is sharing information, facilitating conversations, crowdsourcing stories, smart curation and aggregation, data mining and visualizations, news games and more.
– Since 2005, J-Lab has funded more than 45 “New Voices” community news projects, received over 1,500 applications given several $25,000 in grants.
– Of 46 projects launched thanks to J-Lab, 76% found success. Only 54% of those projects are still active.
– The newest trend with professional journalists includes the launching of hyperlocal startups, state-based investigative news sites and niche sites.
– Another big trend happening is what Schaffer calls Metro News Sites, sites like The Texas Tribune and Voice of San Diego.
– The newest J-Lab program is Networked Journalism, inviting major news organizations to work with local sites in their community. Seattle has grown from 5 sites to 22 sites, and will soon be beginning their first crowdsourced story.
– Miami has created channels on their CMS where sites in the community can put up their content, and will soon be expanding to sites covering things like the Haitian community.
– In Tucson, sports bloggers are now beating the journalists for the official papers in the city.
David Cohn, Spot.us
– The era of a passive reader isn’t over, because it never really existed.
– Participation means doing things together. That’s why the passive reader never existed, because people have always been doing things together. It’s just easier now.
– Participating has many forms, and is about distributing the workload. Participatory journalism lends itself better to certain types of reporting.
– There are certain stories that would be better served by one person spending a lot of time with that story.
– That led to community funded reporting, which is distributing not the workload, but the financial load. Spot.Us is the example.
– One story published on Spot.Us was about civilian oversight of police in Oakland. One of the readers who funded the story said, “It made me feel empowered.”
– Another story, which was published in the Oakland Tribune, explored the rising cost of potholes in Oakland as funding eroded.
– Freelancing is an antiquated process. On Spot.Us, though, freelancers are pitching the world.
– You need to have a sense of transparency in journalism, otherwise people won’t participate. If there’s no transparency, people won’t contribute to funding.
– It’s David Cohn’s birthday.
Ethan Zuckerman, co-founder and board chair, Global Voices Online; fellow, Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University
– FAILfare is a conference in which you can only present on stage if you have a catastrophic failure to talk about. The first one was in New York a couple of weeks ago.
– There is a space for a FAILfare for participatory journalism.
– Global Voices was founded five and a half years ago, built to ask, “can we get better international coverage by bridging the gap between participatory media and professional media?”
– Journalistic funding is being cut in international newsrooms. Can you lean on citizen media to bridge this gap?
– In 2004, asked a bunch of bloggers if they could merge their individual coverage into a newsroom of sorts.
– Global Voices tries to cover countries or issues that wouldn’t necessarily be covered in the US press.
– When the project started in 2005, many people wrote only in English, in attempts to reaching a larger international audience. Now, as more and more people are coming online, people are more likely to write in local languages.
– It’s now harder to do the work of opening stories to the wider world.
– Global Voices produces media specifically so that other media organizations will pick it up. In terms of agenda setting, Global Voices has had poor luck, because media organizations only pick up content on stories that they already know are important.
– If anyone is planning a revolution, don’t use Twitter.