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The Media

Participatory Journalism 92

J.D. Lasica has written a three-part series on participatory journalism. He put a lot of emphasis on video netcasting, which I think has a lot of years to go before it's actually important in any sense due to the slow growth of broadband in the U.S., but overall it's a good analysis of trends in interactivity.
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Participatory Journalism

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  • by mjmalone ( 677326 ) * on Sunday August 10, 2003 @02:20PM (#6660642) Homepage
    From the article [ojr.org]:

    But when bloggers comment on and link to news stories, is that journalism? Usually no -- but it depends. When the blogger adds personal commentary that relies on original research, or if it is done by someone considered an authority on the subject, some would consider it journalism.

    I think that this is the most interesting thing that has come out of the web. In the past people relied on relatively few sources to form their opinions on politics and world affairs. With the advent of the internet comes the ability to discuss events with people all over the world instantaneously. We no longer have to rely on large organizations to provide us with news that is usually biased due to personal or corporate agendas.

    Slashdot is an excellent example. Stories are posted here every day, and for those of you who RTFA you may notice, as I have, that the comments on slashdot often provide far more interesting insight. The article argues that blogging is not really journalism because there is no editor, I would argue that every reader of the blog is, in fact, an editor. If someone writes something in their blog that is obviously biased or not based on fact people will undoubtably pick up on it and reply.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 10, 2003 @02:38PM (#6660745)
      I would argue that every reader of the blog is, in fact, an editor.

      Slashdot -- where everyone is an editor with the exception of the editors.
    • Yeah, Slashdot is considered participatory journalism. This is, of course, despite the double postings, the terrible grammatical errors, the obvious bias, and, lest we forget, the goatse.cx guy.... Of course, I still look at Slashdot five or ten times a day, so I am being a hypocrite, but I still inclined to gripe.
    • Good point, it takes the emphasis off of credibility, but in a good way. I think anyone who has ever worked a day in their life knows that there's really no drawn lines in the world (i.e. a controlled system), just human tendencies to perform x% of their job and 100-x% of what feels good at the time. Let's face it, Humans are moody. I know half the crap I see and read I don't take too seriously because Humans are behind it all. True, blogs and other free-forms of communication are more likely going to be fi
    • by chaoscat ( 576647 ) on Sunday August 10, 2003 @03:04PM (#6660866)
      In a way, discussion sites like slashdot are a return to the very old idea of the Socratic Method (ala Socrates), where people learn by asking questions and discussing, rather than being presented with information. I've worked for several years now tutoring college freshmen, and I can say with some confidance that student participation invariably leads to better understanding than when i just stand there and explain stuff. Sites like slashdot bring this same type of experience to the news.
      • you mean news should be based on discussion rather than information? ;-)
        maybe you meant to say, "facts by themselves are not enough, the consequences of those facts also need to be part of news"?
        • Hey Agurkan, Do you think we always get the real facts from the news?
          Just wondering what you're opinion is.
          • no, the facts provided by mainstream press are almost always put on a spin, and sometimes they tell only one part (which may be a lot worse than one side) of the story. Chomsky has good discussion of these issues, probably there are other sources, too, which provide references. however, you can't have news w/o facts. for me, that is a contradiction in terms.
        • There's no reason discussion can't inculde fact, and indeed fact is an essential ingredient in a good discussion. My point was in how those facts are presented. If a person is a passive participant, ala watching the news on TV, that person absorbs less knowledge than if they actively seek out and discuss these facts themselves. Thus, if I simply read an article on slashdot, I retain a small amount of that information. If I comment on it, I (probably) retain more, and if I get involved in a back and fort
    • The coin always has two sides. I don't have nothing against everyone having an opinion in some matter, on the contrary. But. You may be an expert in your field, but this doesn't automatically make you an expert in something else. Slashdot is a perfect example. Lots of people discussing things they sometimes don't know much about, but still acting as they do. You know, all those "IANAL, but..." posts and so on. Someone even has a signature saying that he types programs into a computer all day, so people shou
    • by Lord_Dweomer ( 648696 ) on Sunday August 10, 2003 @03:55PM (#6661104) Homepage
      " Slashdot is an excellent example. Stories are posted here every day, and for those of you who RTFA you may notice, as I have, that the comments on slashdot often provide far more interesting insight."

      Interesting observation. It is my belief that the reason why nobody ever RTFA is BECAUSE the comments are more interesting. I know that's why I personally never RTFA. Not to mention that the important facts of the article are usually summed up throughout the course of reading people's comments, as well as seeing additional bit of relevant information attached to those important facts.

      • It is my belief that the reason why nobody ever RTFA is BECAUSE the comments are more interesting. [. . .] Not to mention that the important facts of the article are usually summed up throughout the course of reading people's comments

        I know what you mean, but it reminds me of the old joke about a restaurant that nobody ever goes to any more.

        "Why not?"

        "It's too crowded!"

    • True, but... (Score:2, Interesting)

      by griblik ( 237163 )
      Do you think this means that traditional media is being diluted? Anyone and everyone has an opinion on current events. It used to be the case that you could trust the traditional media (newspapers, tv news etc) to bring you a responsible, independant portayal of current events, because they had pride in doing so, and being better at it than the other guy (ok, I might be being a little naive here).

      The recent conflict in Iraq has highlighted, in my view, the fact that this isn't necessarily true any more.
    • Hi. I wrote the OJR series, so I'll dive in here and there.

      >The article argues that blogging is not really journalism because there is no editor.

      Actually, that's a view espoused by an editor at MSNBC.com -- and one that I disagree with. I agree with mjmalone that a lot of blogging is journalism. (My personal views on the subject weren't allowed into the story.) Here are some examples of open-source journalism:

      - During the peace demonstrations in February, Lisa Rein took to the streets of San Franci

  • by Comsn ( 686413 )
    what is considered news? 'bush says arnold would make good govenor' is that news? its not newsworthy, its not even an endorsement. so why is it on cnn every 10 minutes?

    how many of you read news from blog sites?
    • I do read news from blogsites, particularly insights on Iraq by the iraqui blogger [blogspot.com]
      Salam Pax and the american Moja Vera [blogspot.com].
      And if you think what they post is NOT newsworthy well then, I don't know what newsworthiness is then.
    • see /. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by lavaface ( 685630 ) on Sunday August 10, 2003 @03:03PM (#6660860) Homepage
      I get nearly all of my news from blogs and other news aggrergators. Eschaton [blogspot.com] and the Progressive Review [prorev.com] will point me to articles of interest. /. is also important in this regard. Of course these sites merely link to other publications. However, the context that they place articles and the accompanying comments are often more important than the articles themselves. There are few examples of journalists posting original work, but they do exist. Christopher Allbritton, a former AP reporter raised $10,000 for a trip to Iraq for original reporting on Back to Iraq. [back-to-iraq.com] Calpundit has a post about the microjournalism efforts [calpundit.com] of science writer David Appell. In time, a market for independent journalists will emerge. A widespread plan for micropayments will help.

      South Korea's Ohmynews [ohmynews.com](not in english yet) has thousands of contributers whose stories are ranked and polished [wired.com] by seasoned editors. The internet played an important role in electing their progressive president in the last election.

      There is a future for independent original news on the web. For now, though, it will remain the province of armchair pundits who sift through dozens, or hundreds, of articles and put them in a context that Google news could never do (maybe with the purchase of Pyra Labs . . . ) They may have other jobs but if they are successful enough to elicit 10,000 people to contribute $5, they are on their way towards financial independence as well.

  • Define important... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MyNameIsFred ( 543994 ) on Sunday August 10, 2003 @02:39PM (#6660752)
    I think has a lot of years to go before it's actually important in any sense due to the slow growth of broadband
    I would like to know your definition of important. Take blogging for example. Do a lot of people read and write blogs. Without a doubt. But are they truly important? Do they change public opinion? I don't know. The average blog that I have read, has a rather small group of people of maybe 10 to 20 people who regularly post. Is this impact?
    • Do they change public opinion? I don't know. The average blog that I have read, has a rather small group of people of maybe 10 to 20 people who regularly post. Is this impact?

      Certainly it can change public opinion. Many occults, and groups target people this way, by singling out the information that appeals to people. Using hidden agenda in a message could make the difference of turning someone into a future law enforcement agent, perhaps because he was sickened by what he read, to a certified terrorist

  • Journalism 101 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by segment ( 695309 ) <sil.politrix@org> on Sunday August 10, 2003 @02:50PM (#6660800) Homepage Journal
    when business interests and advertising dollars trump the rights of readers to obtain honest, hard-hitting advice that would send a media bean-counter into a stroke.

    One of the problems with independent journalists is cognitive dissonance:

    Festinger claimed that people avoid information that is likely to increase dissonance. Not only do we tend to select reading material and television programs that are consistent with our existing beliefs, we usually choose to be with people who are like us. By taking care to ''stick with our own kind," we can maintain the relative comfort of the status quo. Like-minded people buffer us from ideas that could cause discomfort. In that sense, the process of making friends is an example of selecting our own propaganda.

    We as people tend to stick with familiarity, and with the news agencies, just because it isn't an independent person but rather a slew of ideals thrown together, no matter what you think things will always be slanted one way or the other.


    As most newspaper and broadcast journalists can attest, there are some news subjects that are considered generally off-limits to the news side


    Everything must be taken with a grain of salt. My pet peeve about news agencies, is they seemed to be reserved in what they will say, and I think too many people are left blind to major issues in life. It's sad to admit it, but there are many people worldwide who don't have the mental capability of understanding what is in front of them. Instead they turn away to fantasy, Jennifer Lopez, Ben Affleck, Oprah, whatever can be used as an escape.


    Being that i run a pseudo news site with information that I think is interesting, I too know how to slant things for my own enjoyment or gain. I also know the dangers that most don't when it comes to posting certain information. Sure I've been threatened with suits, been visited by feds, and I'm still debating whether or not I should take down MI6's headquarter pix from my FOIA [politrix.org] directory. I think participation is great because it gives another perspective to an issue, yet at the same time I think it is dangerous because common sense would dictate, somewhere along the line information will be misconstrued which could lead to grave danger.

    EOF

    • I'm still debating whether or not I should take down MI6's headquarter pix
      If the Feds bother you, just point them in the direction of a recent bond Film that features MI6s Vauxhall Cross building in all its glory. MI5s is less well known but, it is still public knowledge.
    • Re:Journalism 101 (Score:3, Interesting)

      by aaronsorkin ( 589236 )
      The "media bean-counter" quote comes from another (related) OJR story I wrote, Niches of trust [ojr.org], which looked at three indie one-person news sites.

      While I agree that indie news operations would cause dissonance from readers who want to stick to the familiar (if stale) old media brands, the fact that indie sites tend to offer niche news and subjective news might work in their favor over the long term.

      Indymedia [indymedia.org], for example, offers a subjective slant to political news (just as the increasingly popular Fox N

  • This looks like a good post to selfishly promote my "journalism" site The Power Vacuum [powervacuum.org]. It is a slash site that provides political news and conservative analysis. We normally do several stories a day, but with the August vacation that everyone in DC decides to take, we have less to talk about.
  • ... participatory pornography?
  • by Sanity ( 1431 ) * on Sunday August 10, 2003 @03:13PM (#6660910) Homepage Journal
    Recently I wrote an article on how one might create a collaborative editorial system where the personal bias of the editors could be filtered out. Anyone interested can check it out here [slashdot.org].
    • http://www.indymedia.org

      participatory journalism with collaborative editing in action.
      • participatory journalism with collaborative editing in action.
        Yes, and with a healthy leftist bias - the point is to filter out such bias to get closer to what, say, the BBC tries to be (and for the most part, IMHO, succeeds in being).
  • Journalism and Blogs (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Geartest.com ( 582779 ) on Sunday August 10, 2003 @03:25PM (#6660958) Homepage

    We ran an article about blogs, participatory journalism and emerging technology [geartest.com] from a panel discussion at this year's annual Canadian Association of Journalists (inter)national conference [www.caj.ca].

    The panelists agreed that blogging and other forms of particpatory journalism don't automatically qualify as journalism, but they did say that it CAN be journalism if journalistic standards and principles are applied.

    One of the more interesting comments was from technology journalist David Akin, who said that experiments that enlist blogging citizens with camera phones to send their photos to news sites may be cool and fun and interesting, but it's not news by longshot, mainly because they lack the professional journalistic skills to identify what qualifies as news.

    • So I guess the New York Times doesn't get filed under journalism then.

    • The panelists agreed that blogging and other forms of particpatory journalism don't automatically qualify as journalism, but they did say that it CAN be journalism if journalistic standards and principles are applied.



      I would agree with that statement wholeheartedly.

      It is not the medium, it is the standard of objectivity that makes a journalist.

      As a professional journalist, my answer about the medium is, WHO CARES? It better be accurate, though.
  • Those that can't, talk about it.

    But if you can't do it, surely you're not qualified to talk about it.

    Journalists suck.
    Tech. journalists suck.
  • I think has a lot of years to go before it's actually important in any sense due to the slow growth of broadband in the U.S.

    Luckilly, there are places outside the US where the brodband access is pretty good. My ISP offers me an asymetric bandwidth of 2.2M/384k for 29.99 euros ($33.99). France is not a bad place to live IMHO.

  • I like to write. It's what I do to relax when I'm not coding. But I take my writing pretty seriously. I write mostly either technical or opinion pieces. Here's links to most of them:
  • by WildFire42 ( 262051 ) on Sunday August 10, 2003 @04:26PM (#6661246) Homepage
    I think this is the ultimate form of "interactive" journalism...

    The Naked News, The program with nothing to hide. [nakednews.com]

    I mean, really though, those who watch this, are they really paying attention to the latest George W. Bush sound clip?

    I mean, I'm all for bewbies, but has our society really gotten to the point where the only way we can get people to be interested in current events is if the ignorant public gets to see primo mammary glandage?

    Good grief.
  • That all journalism in the future will have slashdot's quality of grammar, spelling and punctuation?

    It's cool to have all this media around, but the problem is now how do we get LESS better media? Quality is far more important than quality. Perhaps the web has made this even worse.

  • by Platinum Dragon ( 34829 ) on Sunday August 10, 2003 @07:13PM (#6661953) Journal
    For some time, I've participated in a couple parts of a widespread participatory journalism project [indymedia.org]. Since participatory journalism can be anything from an open publishing system with editor collectives, to someone's soapbox with a comment system, it's a bit hard for anyone to call themself an expert or something. With that said, I'd like to toss in a few thoughts drawn from my own experiences.

    First, I haven't read the comments, but I suspect more than a few people will cry "but what about objectivity???" Objectivity does not exist. Everyone, every reporter, every editor, approaches a story from an angle, whether a personal one derived from years of experience, or a collective one that comes from economic or political demands. It is essential that independent writers report and analyse truthful information without exaggeration, but there must be an open acknowledgement that different sources will skew descriptions based on their own opinions. One need only contrast, say, the Toronto Star, the National Post, and Socialist Worker's description of the same events to recognize this reality.

    I find that the best articles, in corporate, state, and independent media report the facts, then provide analysis based on the writer's stated or perceivable mental framework. Journalism seems at its best when the writers go beyond reporting, placing events in a greater context. Obviously, context can be selective, which makes the necessity of varied sources even more important. Falsehoods and exaggerations need to be called out and corrected. However, the focus on "objectivity" has become a fetish that very few news services really pay anything more than lip service to. Far too often, objectivity is used as a cover for inserting yet another editorial viewpoint to an article or deleting a disfavoured view (or even an uncomfortable fact). The most obvious example of this that pops into my head is Fox News' "Fair and Balanced" slogan, and you can probably come up with many more.

    Second, open-publishing sites will be just as influenced by concerns outside of pure reporting as the New York Times or the Islamic Republic News Agency. Editorial collectives or individual editors will post features based on an overall point of view. I doubt anyone will ever see a feature praising neoconservatives on Ontario Indymedia; likewise, I will never expect to see a headline praising anarchists on Free Republic. If there are forums or open-publishing systems, the collective/editors will likely retain some kind of control over the system. Some kind of editing capability is necessary to deal with spam, flames disguised as news, repeated postings, false info, legally questionable things (some sites will be more anal than others regarding legalities), etc. I've found that comments are best left untouched, since the debate can be useful and enlightening, such as many high-score posts here.

    I've participated in two editorial collectives. One tended toward a freewheeling attitude, allowing practically anything that wasn't empty, an advertisement, a repeat, or blatantly inciteful. We almost never hid comments to articles, barring a nasty incident following the Netanya suicide bombing in 2001 and the Israeli military operation that followed it, where some knob decided to post anti-Jewish imagery as comments to every article on the newswire. The jerk, stopped, eventually, and the flood of crap that polluted the newswire helped spark a discussion about reorganizing the site and the abilities of the newswire clerks.

    This leads to another point, regarding freedom of speech. Free speech does not mean every nutbar and arsewad can post whatever crap they want and cry "censorship" when it is removed. Even sites operated by anarchist collectives will have rules, since "anarch" translates as "no leaders," not "no rules". However, I've found that the most satisfying sites have an open membership policy. Anyone who is willing to put in the effort can join the edit
    • Hey fellow IMCer :) (shayne here) Objectivity is one of those little words that seems to be a big obsession point of a lot of media critics, but not alot of folk sit down and really ask wtf it means.

      John Hartley (queensland uni) suggested that propoganda was more honest than news, cos at least propoganda wore its bias openly. He also had some interesting points about the difference between objectivity and balanced reporting.

      (Objectivity purports(sp?) to tell the truth and balanced purports to tell both si

    • Objectivity does not exist. Everyone, every reporter, every editor, approaches a story from an angle, whether a personal one derived from years of experience, or a collective one that comes from economic or political demands. It is essential that independent writers report and analyse truthful information without exaggeration, but there must be an open acknowledgement that different sources will skew descriptions based on their own opinions. One need only contrast, say, the Toronto Star, the National Pos
      • One need only contrast, say, the metric system, the English system, and a system based on the size of the current king's foot to recognize this reality.

        Nice apples-n-oranges comparison--you seem to be declaring that certain sources can be considered arbiters of objective truth and facts above all others. This is provably incorrect, as I will soon demonstrate.

        You are the one that has lost your objectivity.

        I never had objectivity--and neither have you, unless you're a noncorporeal force with no emotion
  • The navel-gazing segment of the blogging community has been getting headaches asking itself if blogging is journalism. Some of them seem to believe they're in the vanguard of Yet Another Revolution That Will Save The World.

    But...

    Journalism is a profession, a craft, a discipline. You don't become a journalist when you pick up a pen, or lay hands on a keyboard. You become a journalist by behaving like a journalist. You might write your report using a fountain pen, or you might post it on your blog. If y
    • Well what is? Impartiality in the news gathering process is a total illusion, one person's terrorist is another's freedom fighter. News is biased to a lesser or greater degree. Some organisations try to be independent (i.e., BBC), but they still have their own 'point of view'. And then the embedded journalists duirng the last conflict, were they in any position to be independent?

      If someone reports what is happening, then that is journalism. If they speculate too, that is also valid if that speculation is

      • I won't accept your definition of journalism as reporting what is happening. That's far too broad. I'm not practicing journalism if I write a letter to a friend describing what I did yesterday. Someone who blogs a conference they're attneding isn't practicing journalism, either.

        It's foolish -- and not very important -- to expect journalists to have no opinions about the events they're reporting. If your standard of impartiality requires every journalist to report every possible slant and every potential
        • I think we must agree to differ on this one. I agree about the letter to a friend, but what about a conference blogger? If the audiance is more than one, then I see little difference.

          Someone who has been trained as a journalist may have a certain professional detachment, but that goes, and indeed we expect it to go when they witness something particularly distateful. Does a journalist stop reporting because they are attacked, either deliberately (Sarajevo - journos were considered targets) or accidentally

    • reallocate writes:

      >As for participatory journalism...well, I expect journalists to make an effort at impartiality; to watch, not participate. A participant's account might be interesting, even informative, but it won't be journalism. Merely producing information is not jouranlism.

      and:

      >The primary reason to reject the notion that blog writing is journalism is that fact that blog writers lack editorial oversight, seldom obtain more than a single source to verify a story point (if they manage to obt


  • I have friend I know in the news business right now who is a self-incorporated,. professional, web-based journalist who does newspaper gigs every day. His name is Joe White and he works out of Nashville, Tn.

    He and I had this discussion a few months ago, and he said that it is more direct, more concise to the information you are interested in, and overall better for what he does.

    I find this future proliferation (IT WILL HAPPEN) to be a double edged sword. My argument goes like this:

    The Good
  • I used to think that blogs had little impact and were not real journalism, until I read Dear Raed [blogspot.com] by Salam Pax. This, for me, was most objective reporting on the US-Iraq war.

    Salam now has a column in The Guardian [guardian.co.uk], which AFIAK makes him the first blogger to articulate to journalist status.
    • Are you out of your right mind?

      The only objective reporting out of the Iraq campaign (not officially a war you know), came from Fox News and Rush Limbaug.

      Don't listen to the bloody leftist CNN or New York Times. American soldiers have not commited war crimes, and anyway if Europe tries to charge one of them with anything, we will liberate them. The president said so himself.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    As you might guess, this is a somewhat contentious area within journalism
    studies, although those who reject the idea are losing the battle. Before individual "participatory journalism," there was "community journalism" (where newspapers ask readers what they want to read about), but in either case the core concept is that consumers of information should be able to condition and control what they get --> interactivity.

    This is 180-degrees antithetical to the old idea that there is such a thing as object
  • When JD contacted us for the article, it prompted to jot down these few thoughts: Too often, we think of journalism as "reporting news". And yet a huge concern in journalism *writing* theory is "how to make your news *story* connect with your reader". This is still a top-down model, however, that bears some examination:. First, what makes an "event" different than "news"? news are events that matter, that are deemed to have some kind of relevance to our lives. So, news might be defined as an event plus s

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