1pm session: How can Librarians and Journalists collaborate in recruiting and training Citizen Journalists

Moderated by Colin Rhinesmith

  • questions – is this a good idea?
  • What roles can librarian and journos play? Challenges and concerns
  • what are the standards, and who sets them. Possible downside

Training issues, literacy about consuming online information. Helpful if org that manages cit-j clearly labels opinion vs editorial. Good for libraries that offer this type of service to make it clear that this is different from what is offered in local newspapers.

Colin – skokienet.org is an example of public library that has embraced tech to allow people to report on issues relative to their own community. Unsure of specifics on how they manage that site. Citj is a contested term these days. Is it journalism? Maybe it’s the wrong name, but it brings people together to get info that doesn’t get out in any other way. Can we make baseline of what it would take to prepare people to be cit-j?

Jessica – Scranton public access channel used to be in public library. Natural thing to house public media in library.

Colin – Allentown also runs public tv out of library. Interesting discussion about archiving of content, and larger cultural questions about preserving community memory.

Jessica – lady of Scranton asked library to archive all public meeting coverage. Seems no-brainer.

Big responsibility to archive public records. If library is going to be responsible, that’s big and expensive. Real concerns if it becomes official legal documentation. Maybe a copy, but responsibility if it is the record.

Colin – is there an interest among librarians in local generated content, and is there an interest in preserving the work that comes out of public channel.

Jacqueline. If not talking about funding issues, absolutely.

Very specific legal requirements set by state archivist that are town clerk responsibility. Library is required to keep copies of that stuff, but it’s a huge amount. And if trying to give legit access, there’s work involved. Libraries have wonderful opportunity to create and document local history. Public record of government is a separate thing.

Librarian in small Washington town has become ad hoc journalist in local town. She said only parttime, can’t keep doing it. Want people to do it themselves.
Michael – big difference between training and hosting. Should it be the same organization? How does it work?

Colin – SkokieNet is social network site for uploading and sharing stories and photos. Make use of public computing facilities.

Jacqueline – model of senior center where seniors were writing a newspaper. Wonderful. Giving people opportunity for meaningful work.

Bill D. – RyeReflections, created by Jack Driscoll used to be with Boston Globe. How do you delineate editorial function and decide how much of that library can do? I think it is possible to provide community information without having to make serious editorial judgments. WilliamstownBeat is an aggregation site for local ngo’s. Sexton for local church is curating most interesting item to the front page. Don’t envision money to hire reporters, just want to say here’s a place where community can find information that is produced by legitimate sources of information. Would like to be able to add social networking skills. Who makes judgments about what ngo and what local business gets a channel? Do we take their money? Could a library run something akin to that and where would you go with it?

Ruth – we do something like that in our bulletin boards. One for library events, and the other for community. Don’t seem to have trouble with having to choose between postings.

Isn’t the challenge how we look at the screen? Like newspaper front page.

What happens if there is misleading information? Who makes the judgments?

Colin – Rapidian.org Pretty rigorous training in terms of who can have story promoted to the front page. Everyone else has a chance to participate. Helps readers understand what they are accessing, but also creates healthy inspiration to engage more, because they want stuff on front page. They understand there is a structure. You can be promoted up a ladder in terms of your role.

Bill D. Newstrust.net has organized system to let you post comments or analysis of news stories. Should we create a manual of best practices? Depending on level of engagement each community wants. Could present in structured wiki format a manual of best practices.

David – would prefer to see recommendations

Colin – if we could frame it in such a way that libraries could participate.

Helen – Pawling. Group e-mail discussion hosted by Dems. One person crosses the line. One person got on to talk about civility.

Donna – Rapidian has code of conduct.

Flag content? Crowdsourced thumbs-up, down? People who control forum reserve right to bar the user?

Jessica – blackhills knowledge network. Out of public library. To create local news knowledge.

Bill D. – programmer has put in hundreds of volunteer hours. Won’t launch until we’re sure we have sustainability model. Citizen media inc. is owner of site (501c3). But haven’t raised money in community because want to make sure it has longevity. Wife and I used to own the weekly paper in town. Question is whether website is a public service that can keep going. Economics have disappeared because of big box stores have eliminated local merchants and advertisers have disappeared. That’s what’s hurting community journalism around America. An effort to think through challenge of what community does when doesn’t have a local news source anymore.

Jessica. Texas township in PA. city council refused to have a website. Too expensive. One person took it upon herself to have a website. What if something happens to her? I’m a former reporter and going to library school. Interested in cit-j because if for-profit disappear. Who’s going to pick up the slack? Bill D. is the local steward. Who else?

Colin – getting back to question of collaboration, couple of things: (1) in some cases there are professional journos involved in cit-j efforts to fill gap. Would propose: are there other resources in the community that might work together. In Cambridge, found cit-j project filled the void because non-profits had no place to send press releases. Created a community calendar. It’s a form of cit-j, and could exist on public libraries. (2) maybe idea of creating a baseline of standards for cit-j who may get involved with public library sponsored cit-j project.

Bill D. – assign levels of editorial intervention that would be willing to accept? Would depend on the community and their level of acceptance of library intervention. Notion of community curation guidelines. Could be run by individuals or other community non-profits.

Journos could help find that line, give workshops.

Michael – local journalists in Boston are offering workshops focused on citizen journalists. How to do things, how to ask questions. Standards and techniques. Libraries could be facilitators of that process.

Helen – could libraries convene weekly workshop to write stories for the local news site.

Colin – boston has rolled out yourtown sites. A number of commercial journo orgs that are interested in user-generated content. Partnerships.

Libraries could help in research world. Add expertise in finding information.
Add journalist in mix to remove burden of responsibility from library. Engage local students through journo training, have them report and produce news content while they’re learning. Given huge cutbacks in school journo programs, libraries can fill in.

Ruth – did project in reading with mit education lab, high school seniors, came with parents. Bonus was mit was going to help with video equipment. Produce a piece of journalism that would have a national edge and local connection. Mit wanted to study how kids produced information and worked together. Almost all of them chose to do video. Project took one month. Every week, one evening, journos at library to consult with students on project. Parents and students loved the project. Winning project would be viewed by abc news and kids would go to new york with chaperone.

Exhibition value of citj and creating documents about our community through video and other forms of documentation. E.g. artists in Brooklyn could be brought in to mentor students.

Librarians are database mavens. Newsrooms not so good at that.

Resources would be most beneficial if included perspectives from librarians and journalists.

In resource document could provide background information on digital platforms available. Guide would have tech info, examples of community guidelines. Case studies. Colin – start wiki? Librarystream.

Can we localize spot.us solution?