How do we develop citizen journalists? (notes by Bill Densmore)

Carrie Watters and Steph Routh

Participants: Mike Fancher, Jodryn Holman, Elissa Schuler Adair, Lisa Loving, Steph Routh, Miro Merrill (left early), Jeff Brown, Emerson Malone, Elaine Cha, Media Tichenor, Bill Densmore.

(Jeff Brown, formerly All Headline News)
Jeff Brown said that All Headline News, which began as an aggregator and moved into providing some original content, is interested in setting up relationships with college in which the instructors determine what can go on the wire. All Headline News would provide the infrastructure and return some money in the form of micro-payments for stories that attract audience.

What do we mean when we talk about citizen journalis? How do we create institutions for journalism without the barriers of higher education. Can we use libraries – look at the Knight libraries challenge.

How do we identitfy those who already are functioning as journalists in their community and how do we support them?

—– running notes —

Now in the How do we develop citizens journalists session:

Lisa Loving, Skanker: We need more people from the communities of color. Coud we create a portal that encourages folks like that. Figure out a way for people to learn how to be a journalist without going to the University of Oregon.

Jeff: Look at Knight Libraries challenge.

Steph: What do we mean by journalism and how to we create institutions that don’t have barriers.

Elissa Adair: has taught community lay health educators. The question has evenr been how do you identify groups already playing the role of citizen journalist and then support what they are doing with training, resources, tool, access to referrals. In a community lay help model. How do you advocate on their behalf for resources they do. Until the health system changes enough that you can get money for that role to people, you have only gone so far. So partly it is advocating for the professionalization of that role.

Jeff: SpotUs doesn’t exist. It was a crowdfunding portal. You could be a journalit st o rnon-journlaist. You could have consensus for a team around that it. Purchased by American Public Media for $2.5M or $3.5M and APM didn’t know what to do with the platform and killed it. Stories that exist are often not told because there is no way to pay for the resources to do it.

• Differentiate between unpaid, volunteer journalism and paid accountable journalism.

Carrie: There are lots of people out there doing journalism but it is not very good. Any thoughts about how we make citizen journalism better?

Miro leaves the room.

Loving: Not about the Queen’s English.

Bill: Struck by the opportunity to learn how to identify people with journalism instincts as displayed in everyday life and then cultivating them and exposing them to non-accredited, non-traditional academic training.

Elaine: How do we find a way for those people to make a living. Identifying those people who have potential. It happned to her. She started doing community engagement for a brand-new platform. She came from a formal academic writing style – it took a long time to overcome it. Distinguish between those who would have to start from scratch and those who have some background.

Bruce: There is a magic to trying to get the effect you want. Because we have so much journalism out thtere, there isn’t a widely known job description, we just have people who say if I write it down I’ll change the world. Yea!

• Include in grant proposals funding for skills development. Ethics and credibility are components

Melia — How do we distinguish spheres people are involved in – advocacy, working in the community. Developing citizen journalists is creating citizen bridge connectors so we are not isolated in those spheres. So each sphere has connections among others. We have strengths but how do we make sure we are community ant connecting up with those strengths?

Elaine: The term citizen journalist – at what point does the one overtake the other? There are people with different levels of education and experience and there are real journalists. I worry is there a poin at which when you’ve identified someone who has the capacity to become a CJ, does that at some point hurt the relationship that the person has with their community.

Bill: That poses the question – can we apply the principal of “radical transparency” to allow for a new reole definition of journalist who is not required to give up their passion for their community interest.

Carrie: Works for the Arizona Republic. My fear is that CJ were back of the book filler and I don’t want to see back of the book filler. I think they should be something more than that. How do I better train folks to do this work so they are not second stringers.

There is another issue – the pay is also a question we are faced with. Do you think they need to be paid. Is that something we should be striving for?

Jordyn: Yes. It changes the quality of the work if you are paying for it.

Fancher: There is a challenge with not paying contributors and paying journalists. We’re not trying to save any particular form of journalism. WE are trying to save the functions and democratic purposes of journalism. We don’t need to save journalism, we need more journalism done by more peole on more platforms. All these ideas have merit and potential.

Jeff: How are we using engagement to inform societies. Why does these citizen journalism people exist wthin your organization?

Carrie: The biggest problem is convincing legacy editors to play CJ stuff on the website. The challenge of trying to improve the product. Can’t train or they are an employee.

— break in continuity —-

Elissa: Explains experience at Consumer Reports where they couldn’t get people to participate in a funded experiment.

Steph: A big challenge is how do you help peole to understand that thyey are the laders people want to hear from and that they have a voice and a platform that is available.

Lisa: I agree. How do you let people know that they have a messages? Foiguring out who is worth is not that hard, who shows up on week two is the challenge.

Elissa: Step up or step back. Journalists need to think about when they step and and step back.

Steph: Systemically a lot of the jornalismt places are places where a lot of people are not comfortable meeting. Social spaces. Dominant culture nonprofits. Journalism spaces, newsrooms. It is not enough to invite people to the table it is how do you reset the table. Journalism is power, a power structure. Power is not deferred. It has to be etaken or rebuilt. You need to build new power centers with citizen journalism.

Melia: What is your readership.

Bill: Moments of changing the world inspires people.

Nathan: Those moment are happening Twitter, SnapChat and other places now. Example Black lives matter. Two of the best reporters on Black Lives Matter are not signed by a major network. That is where the illuminating moments are happening on Twitter. The legacy TV networks are not catching up. But ther eare so many reportesr now who think Snapchat is beneath them. The technology that keeps getting implemented for one reason or another. All this tech that starts out these silly fluffy things turns into sources of amazing information, very quickly. And you’ve got to be on the cutting edge on some of these.

Jeff: If you have a hacks and hackers chapter, support and engage them. Partner with a techie and launch one. It is out of those collisions between those two groups.

Nathan: These two reportesr are both citizen journalists, independent journalists.

Mike Fancher: They developed themselves. How did that happen and how does it replicate.

Jeff: The real currency of the professional journalist is cloud and power.

Mike Fancher: We are seeing more journalism all the time. We need to witness it, celebrate, figure out how it works.

Jeff: In the legacy media business that would not ever fly, they would say why should we support that it is not ours. Maybe the role in the new journalism is to curate that hash tag and wrap a product around it.

One ething we have to take into account is the intent or purpose behind these institutions. CNN, MSNBC, Fox are entertainment organizations.

Lisa: Should we call this independent journalists not citizen journalists. Can you write off an entire generation. When I was a kid, who delivered the newspaper? Kids did. They were part of the news economy. And that did something. I know loads of people who had a paper route. If we could figure out a way to wrap kids into this stuff. We are screwing up. If we don’t figure out a way to reach people when they are younger, we never will. Newspapers used to have a kids page. There is something to that. Most people now don’t even want the news. They want Don Lemon.

Jeff: People want the news now more than every, but not in one place, they want it in the bits and pieces that the want at the moment.

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One Response to How do we develop citizen journalists? (notes by Bill Densmore)

  1. Yve Susskind says:

    Sorry Melia, your name is mis-spelled! I can’t figure out how to edit.

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