Every day for the past year I awaken to read stories and to contribute commentary to NowPublic. I discovered NowPublic after having participated for a year or more at MIXX. The rules are different as MIXX is more about being the first to post a story from which commentary flows, and about earning credits for creating active threads. MIXX was founded by the former CTO at USA Today, Chris McGill, who remains a good friend.
MIXX commentary is administered in accordance with certain rules that prevent conversations from becoming personal attacks, which can happen. There are rules about stealing a thread from someone else, etc. It is competitive.
The trouble comes from the fine line between energized conversations and personal attacks. In one instance at MIXX, there was considerable attack by one group against gays, including lesbians on the site. When the right and left got into heated discussion, it usually transcended into discussion about religion as well.
The MIXX administrators had to pull people apart, giving them “time outs” quite often and that became a distraction. One participant was ejected from MIXX and came to NowPublic and called me over. I am glad to have discovered NowPublic.
Here we can post stories and comment. We can actually report new stories as we discover them and produce original material. The creative dimension is stimulating as this is a place where amateur journalists can comment.
Some of us amateur journalists are writers, artists, photographers and otherwise have associated skills, though we are not paid journalists. That is what makes us “citizen journalists.” Our identities may be slightly disguised by our NP names, but our profiles are publicly available to the extent that we want to be known.
“Citizen journalism (also known as "public", "participatory", "democratic", "guerrilla" or "street journalism") is the concept of members of the public "playing an active role in the process of collecting, reporting, analyzing and disseminating news and information," according to the seminal 2003 report We Media: How Audiences are Shaping the Future of News and Information. Authors Bowman and Willis say: "The intent of this participation is to provide independent, reliable, accurate, wide-ranging and relevant information that a democracy requires."
Citizen journalism should not be confused with community journalism or civic journalism, which are practiced by professional journalists, or collaborative journalism, which is practiced by professional and non-professional journalists working together. Citizen journalism is a specific form of citizen media as well as user generated content.
The idea behind citizen journalism is that people without professional journalism training can use the tools of modern technology and the global distribution of the Internet to create, augment or fact-check media on their own or in collaboration with others. For example, you might write about a city council meeting on your blog or in an online forum. Or you could fact-check a newspaper article from the mainstream media and point out factual errors or bias on your blog. Or you might snap a digital photo of a newsworthy event happening in your town and post it online. Or you might videotape a similar event and post it on a site such as YouTube.
In What is Participatory Journalism?, J. D. Lasica classifies media for citizen journalism into the following types:
Audience participation (such as user comments attached to news stories, personal blogs, photos or video footage captured from personal mobile cameras, or local news written by residents of a community)
Other kinds of "thin media." (mailing lists, email newsletters)
Personal broadcasting sites (video broadcast sites such as KenRadio).
New media theorist Terry Flew states that there are 3 elements "critical to the rise of citizen journalism and citizen media": open publishing, collaborative editing and distributed content. From this perspective, Wikipedia itself is the largest and most successful citizen journalism project, with news often breaking through Wikipedia editors, and stories being maintained as new facts emerge.”
What is the impact of Citizen Journalism? Here is a story that addresses the subject.
“Citizen journalism not making up for loss of local newspapers
By John Timmer | Last updated 2 months ago
In the US, traditional newspapers have undergone a period of contraction, with many papers shutting down entirely. This has been especially hard on local news, because even those newspapers that survive are likely to be consolidated with former competitors, shrinking the total number of outlets and the reporters that once fed them. At the same time, the growth of the Internet and increasing availability of tools for content production has fueled hopes that citizen journalism—a combination of blogs and news-focused sites run by members of the community they cover—might pick up some of the slack. A survey of citizen journalism sites, however, suggests that we're a long way from replacing what has been lost, and the legacy news sites have gone a long way towards adopting current technology and practices.
Although a number of national publications appear to be weathering the collapse of print, local news is often handled poorly, or not at all, by these papers. That means that individuals looking for news about local politics or events are forced to turn to local news organizations, which generally have been hit badly by the changing media landscape. Significant cities like Seattle and Denver have seen dailies shut down entirely, and many cities that once supported several papers have seen that number shrink dramatically.
Regardless of the precise dynamics, there are clearly fewer reporters at work, and many of the ones out of a job presumably had sufficient knowledge of their local community to provide topical and relevant information to their communities.
Since the economics of print are unlikely to revert back to those of the medium's heyday, many of the people who have tracked local news have raised the prospect that some form of citizen journalism, either in the form of blogs or organized volunteer news sites, might take up the slack. One of the references cited by the authors of the new survey even suggested that, given the interactive nature of many blog sites, they might actually promote public debate in a way that more traditional media could not.”