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Archive for the ‘Citizen Journalism’ Category

Blog Action Day: Enter The Knight News Challenge and Make a Difference

Posted by Jacqueline on October 15, 2007

Blog Action Day has gotten tons of buzz in the blogosphere, and for very good reason – it’s a great way to get people thinking about a very big issue – the environment.  It’s something that affects every person on the planet, so getting tons of bloggers to write about it results in a global reach.
 Bloggers Unite - Blog Action Day

Now, the Knight News Challenge is not necessarily about the environment (although depending on the ideas you have, it can be), and it is focused on projects that benefit specific communities as opposed to the entire world, but in this increasingly interconnected world, the two can be connected through the net.

Have the many different posts for Blog Action Day (go here to read them all) inspired you to make your city greener?  Does your idea use digital technology to deliver information to members of your community?  Turn your thoughts into a proposal at www.newschallenge.org, and you could be one step to winning funding, realizing your dreams, and making your home a greener place.

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Posted in Citizen Journalism, Entrepreneurship, General, Innovation, Technology | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

Comments on the NY Times Front Page?

Posted by Jacqueline on October 13, 2007

Several very observant bloggers (or maybe their tipsters) have noticed that the New York Times had temporarily placed reader comments on the main page with a few of their articles (at the time of posting, the general opinion seems to be that it is a test, as the comments are not currently up).   It’s very “web 2.0” of them to allow user generated content to accompany the work of their journalists; however, the general opinion of the blogosphere seems to be divided about the decision.

Many are lauding the Times for being progressive and opening the conversation between readers and journalists (and it is true that sometimes citizen journalism is the best coverage, because it comes from people who are actually on the scene or witnessed the event), but this move has also garnered some criticism.

Josh Catone of Read Write Web took a moderate view – praising the Times for allowing the comments, but questioning the judgment of placing them in such a prominent position.

“However, giving reader comments such a prominent position is dangerous. Readers of news sites (and blogs) go to those specific destinations to read news in the voice they expect — not to see a public argument from commenters.

I would applaud an expansion of New York Times comments beyond blogs to general news stories — I think commenting is great; it gives readers an outlet for instant response and keeps writers honest. But publishing comments on the main page, especially so prominently under the main story, seems like a bad idea. What do you think? Leave your thoughts in the comments below (we won’t publish them on the main page, though!).”

I tend to agree with him – partly because if I’m reading a news article on the Times (or any other newspaper, for that matter), I’m looking for the who, the what, the where, the when, the why, and the how – just the facts, please.  Obviously, op-eds and such are different in regard to factual reporting, but perhaps the Times commenters shouldn’t be given such a major platform (although I’d assume that the comments that do appear are filtered). 

Several commenters on the various blog posts about this move by the Times have mentioned that reader comments shouldn’t have a more visible place than retractions and corrections, which definitely makes sense.  After all, others’ reactions are not as important as the actual facts of the piece, generally, and most newspapers tend to bury corrections, even online, where it seems that it would be fairly easy to add them on to the original article.  On the Silicon Alley Insider, commenter Brian says:

“When they start giving corrections the same placement and prominence as the story that contained the error, then they will be transparent and conversational. They are still burying corrections at the bottom of the story, in the archive, a day or two after it was originally published. They have a long way to go before they have fully embraced the ethos of the blogosphere.”

Perhaps the people who make such decisions at the Times and other papers are reading all these blog posts, and hopefully learning something from them – and at least they are trying to embrace the new media – even if you believe they are making a mistake with the reader comments, mistakes do happen on the way to innovation.

As always, if you have ideas related to digital media, community journalism, and how the web can improve media and the news delivery system, check out the Knight News Challenge.  You’ve only got a few days left to win funding for your ideas!

Posted in Citizen Journalism, General, Journalism, New Media, Web 2.0 | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Open Source Innovating

Posted by Jacqueline on October 12, 2007

One of the many things that makes the Knight News Challenge unique is that you can make your entry open to the public, so they can read, comment, and help improve your plan.  Even people who don’t plan to enter the contest can participate this way, so if you have something to say about community journalism, online news, or just want to have a hand in what could be a revolutionary innovation, go here to sign up and begin.

Although in my previous post, I said it is not the critic who counts; however, a some constructive criticism can go a long way towards helping an entrepreneur get started.  Besides, it’s an easy way to do your part and help citizen and community journalism grow into something that truly changes the world. 

Posted in Citizen Journalism, Entrepreneurship, Innovation, Web 2.0 | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Custom-Blended News

Posted by Jacqueline on October 11, 2007

It’s no surprise that people want to customize their news – after all, things like Netvibes and RSS exist for essentially that purpose.  Steve Boriss of The Future of News has an interesting post up discussing how the web might finally make it possible for us to get exactly the information/news we want, nothing more and nothing less.

“By giving everyone both a communications and delivery platform, might the Internet break-up mass media into fragmented media, finally giving us only the news that we, as individuals, want — news that reflects our worldviews, our interests, our parochial concerns, our preferences, and our tastes?”

Read more…. 

Have an idea or working on a project related to the future customization of news?  Check out the Knight News Challenge and you could win funding (up to $500,000) for your innovative ideas.  It’s worth a shot – it only takes a few minutes to write up a proposal and anyone – of any age, from anywhere in the world – can win.

Posted in Citizen Journalism, General, Journalism, New Media, Web 2.0 | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Ethics And Citizen Journalism

Posted by Jacqueline on October 10, 2007

According to many, one of the negative aspects of citizen journalism is that it is not as regulated as its traditional counterpart – after all, citizen journalists (e.g. bloggers and messageboard or discussion forum posters) generally aren’t considered as reliable as more professional journalists. 

While that’s not necessarily a bad thing – all journalists should carefully vet their sources anyways, it’s given citizen journalism a somewhat undeserved bad name, because really, just because someone is a professional doesn’t automatically mean they are perfectly ethical (in an ideal world, yes, however, that is sadly not the case, although they certainly are more credible than an anonymous internet source). 

However, as citizen journalism keeps gaining ground on the web, the question of ethics comes up, as well as one of regulation.  Is there even any way to set a basic standard for online, independent journalists?  First of all, if you have any ideas in that department, you should check out and enter the Knight News Challenge, especially if your plans are of a smaller scale (realistically, it’s not like anyone can regulate the entire internet).  Secondly, Tim McGuire of McGuire on Media has posted an interesting piece about ethics, the current state of journalism, and the business of journalism, and how it all goes together.  Perhaps it will inspire your entry!

Posted in Citizen Journalism, General, Journalism, New Media, Web | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Let Your Fellow Citizens Make Your Commute Easier

Posted by Jacqueline on October 10, 2007

While most people think of citizen journalism, at least at the current moment, they think of either the courageous bloggers in Burma (and other war-torn nations), or of those people who report on the minutiae of politics, especially local politics.  However, while calling it journalism might be a stretch, there are other kinds of citizen-generated content that are making an immediate impact on people’s lives.

Check out Clever Commute, a website devoted to the travel situation and traffic in the New York City area.  People use their blackberries and smart phones to share information about delays and reroutes, leading to a smoother commute for everyone involved.  No, it’s not really journalism, at least in the traditional sense, but it is breaking news.  And definitely essential knowledge for its users. 

Although public transportation systems have been offering mobile updates for some time, this is the only service that lets people reach their fellow riders (which makes things much more immediate and accurate than the typically slow transit authority updates).  Thus far, commuters using technology to help other commuters has proved to be a superior method of breaking traffic/transportation news, at least in NYC. 

Want to know more?  Check out this NY Times article on Clever Commute.

Do you have an outside-the-box citizen journalism idea?  Take a gamble and enter the Knight News Challenge – you just might win the cash and the resources to make it happen. 

Posted in Citizen Journalism, Digital Media, General, Innovation, Technology, Web 2.0 | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Keep Retailers Honest Through Crowdsourcing

Posted by Jacqueline on October 9, 2007

Talk about a way to keep retailers and store owners honest – WYNC (a NYC public radio station) has peformed a crowdsourcing experiment by inviting listeners to share the prices of a few staple grocery items in their neighborhoods.  People can compare prices on a Google map of New York City and see where the best deals/most expensive locales are.

Any ideas for a crowdsourcing project in your ‘hood?  Check out the Knight News Challenge and you could win funding for your plan.

Posted in Citizen Journalism, General | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Behind the “Great Firewall of China”

Posted by Jacqueline on October 7, 2007

Although the military junta in Myanmar/Burma is the government getting the most flack for censorship these days (and rightfully so), it’s important to remember that neighboring China isn’t exactly known for it’s openness.  In fact, many websites are blocked and there has been talk of bloggers having to register their real names with the government, in order to prevent the spread of “irresponsible and untrue information,” which is a “bad influence” on society.”  (Fortunately, this measure was not put into action). 

The Chinese government’s attempts to control their population’s access to the internet has been termed the Great Firewall of China, and although the wall is far from perfect (users can occasionally get through to banned sites, and there are numerous ways around the blocks, such as using proxies to surf the net, that people can utilize), it’s important to remember the effects of censorship, even if it has proven to be futile for the more technically inclined members of society. 

For instance, just knowing that the government is watching tends to lead to self-censorship. which might not seem all that dangerous on the surface (especially if you live in a country where freedom of speech and the press have long been fundamental rights), but clearly, placing such restrictions can be the beginning of a downward spiral.  However, the Great Firewall hasn’t prevented the Chinese people from embracing the web – according to this study, China will overtake the United States in the number of internet users by 2009.  It’s going to be tough for the government to keep a watchful on all those people.  From the linked article:

“So what affect will the surging population of Chinese web surfers have on the Internet as a whole? China remains divided from the rest of the ‘Net by the content filtering firewall that the government maintains to suppress information and discussion of topics the government deems unworthy. In addition, the government is actively engaged in hunting down people who post negative opinions about the government on blogs, something that US companies such as Yahoo and Google have publicly condemned yet privately supported. These tensions will increase as China’s ‘Net presence continues to grow, but one wonders if the Great Firewall of China can keep up.

Can the Chinese government really keep tabs on all of these users? 137+ million users (and growing) can’t be easily monitored no matter how you slice it, and government attempts at controlling what people say online have been met with a number of high-profile controversies over free speech which have been embarrassing for China, at lest in the western world. Of course, China isn’t too worried about what the western world thinks, especially when the kinds of growth we’re seeing there gives rise to visions of dancing dollar signs and euros in the eyes of many a businessman.”

Recent attempts at controlling the media that the general population consumes include banning RSS (which had previously been a way of accessing banned sites – can’t read the blog?  Try the feed), but as reports from people “behind the wall” say, there are ways around that too. 

One question that arises from this situation is “how can anyone expect to control the web?”  After all, isn’t part of the beauty of the web in the fact that it doesn’t come from one central source?  And won’t the attempts to censor/control the web hurt China’s economy in the long run?

As always, if you have any ideas or projects related to blogging, content delivery, or citizen journalism in places like China where the web isn’t as free or open as it could (should) be, check out the Knight News Challenge.

Posted in Blogging, Citizen Journalism, General, Journalism, New Media, Technology | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Down But Not Out: Burmese Citizen Journalism

Posted by Jacqueline on October 6, 2007

The brave citizen journalists, photographers, bloggers, and videographers on the ground in Burma may be partially silenced by the military junta government’s stringent censorship, but they are not totally quiet.  Instead, they’ve been forced to utilize more complicated methods to get the word out, like smuggling images in cell phones and breaking down files in order to send out them out undetected.

According to David Mathieson, an expert from the Human Rights Watch (quoted in this New York Times article):

“It is not clear how much longer the generals can hold back the future. Technology is making it harder for dictators and juntas to draw a curtain of secrecy.

“There are always ways people find of getting information out, and authorities always have to struggle with them,” said Mitchell Stephens, a professor of journalism at New York University and the author of “A History of News.”

“There are fewer and fewer events that we don’t have film images of: the world is filled with Zapruders,” he said, referring to Abraham Zapruder, the onlooker who recorded the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963.

Before Friday’s blackout, Myanmar’s hit-and-run journalists were staging a virtuoso demonstration of the power of the Internet to outmaneuver a repressive government. A guerrilla army of citizen reporters was smuggling out pictures even as events were unfolding, and the world was watching.”

Hopefully, the continued efforts of the citizen journalists and reporters in Burma will manage to keep the world’s eyes on their corrupt government – and that other nations will draw positive lessons from this situation. 

Do you have ideas for citizen journalists in places where the technological reach is small and freedom of the press is but a pipe dream?  Any projects that could help them achieve their goals?  Enter the Knight News Challenge and you could win a grant and make your innovations a reality.

Bonus links:

The Human Rights Watch’s Burma section – here’s a lot more information on the current government and the country’s recent history.

The NY Times’ The Lede Blog’s latest post on Burma – be sure to check out the comments and the reactions from Burmese peoples and other reporters who have been there in the past few months.

Posted in Blogging, Citizen Journalism, General, Journalism, New Media, Technology, Web | Tagged: , , , , , | 4 Comments »

The Future of the Hyperlocal Web

Posted by Jacqueline on September 30, 2007

Read Write Web’s founder and editor Richard McManus (a popular blog devoted to web technology news, reviews, and analysis) has recently posted about future web trends (here and here).  Many different concepts are included, such as the creation of the semantic web, the growth of the mobile web, and the rise of hyperlocal applications and content. 

The Knight Foundation’s News Challenge is clearly concerned with local journalism and how communities can take advantage of digital technology to deliver breaking news and information, so the hyperlocal trend is of particular interest here.

Here’s what Richard said about hyperlocalism:

“Hyperlocal: Sebastien Provencher forsees “the transformation of the web into an exciting hyperlocal tool.” He said that the combination of the social web, geo-tagging standards, GPS-enabled mobile devices, and the eventual arrival en masse of small merchants and online municipal governments “will forever change the way we see our city or our neighborhood.”

On the same theme, commenter #66, Jacqueline*, said that “local and hyperlocal content/news systems are going to blow up in the not-so-distant future; based on the whole citizen journalism trend (and things like iphones, twitter, and devices/apps that haven’t even been invented yet will make it possible for people to post breaking news literally as it happens).”

Some of the characteristics typically mentioned when the concept of the hyperlocal web is discussed include things like the ability to find information that relates to your locale quickly and easily, and that things like local websites foster a sense of belonging to a specific community (and when I use the word “community”, I’m referring to it in the geographic sense instead of it meaning a group of people with shared interests).  After all, the web has made it easier than ever to organize and share information, so using it to bring the inhabitants of various cities, towns, and villages makes perfect sense.

Although plenty of websites, message boards, and blogs already devote themselves to local content, there is really no major standard to organize it all; also, if you live in a larger municipality, it might be difficult to even find the information you’re looking for due to the sheer breadth of the offerings.  Vice versa, if you happen to live in a small village or rural area, there might not be any content at all relating your area.

One thing that could make finding local information and news easier to find could be the adoption of geo-tagging standards (tagging any posts, photos, or video clips with related location(s)).  This could lead to a way to organize, regulate, and deliver all the valuable content produced by citizen journalists to both their immediate community and the world at large.  As the mobile web grows and devices like smart phones become more popular, systems or applications that deliver breaking news and local information will become even more essential.  Of course, if you have any ideas, or are working on a project that relates to the hyperlocal web, you should check out the Knight News Challenge.

*Yes, I am the Jacqueline referenced in this quote.

Posted in Citizen Journalism, Digital Media, New Media, Technology, Web, Web 2.0 | Leave a Comment »