Archive for July, 2011

New Call for Citizen Journalism Training

An independent media researcher has joined the campaign to better educate citizen journalists.

In her report, Citizen Journalism and the Internet – an Overview, researcher Nadine Jurrat recognizes that “citizen journalists have become regular contributors to mainstream news, providing information and some of today’s most iconic images, especially where professional journalists have limited access or none at all.”

But she also notes that these citizen journalists need ethical, legal and business training to be taken seriously by professional media and audiences alike.

“In order for citizen journalists to continue providing relevant information for the general public, training in ethical standards and legal pitfalls in the context of personal reporting should be made more widely available.”

I couldn’t agree more. There have been instances where individuals who call themselves citizen journalists totally abandon journalistic ethics and disregard any legal repercussions that could occur.

That’s why I’ve been so involved in training citizen journalists. In fact, the “Handbook for Citizen Journalists” that I co-authored includes chapters on those very subjects – libel and 15 core value for citizen journalists.

I believe the handbook is a must-read for any practicing or aspiring citizen journalist.

To purchase your copy, visit www.citizenjournalistnow.com/.

Susan Cormier is the co-author of the “Handbook for Citizen Journalists” (http://www.citizenjournalistnow.com/).

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17

07 2011

When Hyperlocal Isn’t Local

There is debate on the relevance and sustainability of hyperlocal news sites. Yet what about when a hyperlocal site is more popular with outsiders than it is with the local community?

That’s what has been the situation with Alive in Lybia. Small World News talks to Seraj ElAlem, Alive in Lybia’s Bureau Chief in Benghazi.

Talking Hyperlocal with Alive in Libya’s Bureau Chief

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16

07 2011

Citizen Journalist iPhones?

People who try to foretell the secret plans of Apple use many methods. The most common is keeping track of patents that Apple registers with the US Patent Office. This was how people found out about the iPad a good while before it was revealed.

Patently Apple suggests that future iPhones could have specific citizen journalist features, such as “report” and “interview” modes. Basically, it works by detecting the direction of speech and switching on either the front or rear camera, based on who’s talking. The phone acts as technical director to your news story.

Read more about it here.

I should also note that sites like Patently Apple are good examples of data mining journalism, which we have talked about before.

Apple Invents New iPhone Features for Today’s iReporters  

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15

07 2011

Dramatic Video of Arizona Sandstorm

The Telegraph has posted a citizen video of the Hollywood-looking sandstorm that engulfed Phoenix.

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13

07 2011

Chinese “Kung Fu Panda” Rip-off

Fan Huang at Shanghaiist showcases a new Chinese animated film, “Legend of a Rabbit,” featuring a rotund rabbit who cooks and does Kung Fu. Funnily enough, the main villain is–a panda!

Maybe they were responding to Chinese criticism of “Kung Fu Panda” about Hollywood’s inaccurate portrayal of Chinese culture and wanted to do a culturally correct version. Huang comments that they may have unintentionally done so.

They most represent contemporary Chinese culture in that they’ve taken something already successful and simply concocted an uninspired knock-off version of the original, all the while underestimating their audience’s ability to sniff the difference.

Watch: ‘Legend of a Rabbit’ a shamelessly shanzhai Kung Fu Panda

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11

07 2011

HuffPo Re-launches Citizen Journalism Political Section

The Huffington Post experimented with their citizen reporting section on politics, OffTheBus.org in 2007. Due to its success during the 2008 US presidential campaign, they’re bringing it back.

We call it OffTheBus to make a point about what we — you, really — will be up to. In 1973, Timothy Crouse wrote a path-breaking book about political journalism called The Boys on the Bus. The national press, he explained, had become a story, if not THE story, and the paradoxically insulated world they inhabited on the campaign trail wasn’t always the best place to get the real story.

The criticism wasn’t entirely fair. Then, as now, professional reporters can and do get off the Bus. But, arguably, no one can see America better than the people who never get on the vehicle in the first place — in other words, all of you.

The idea is simply to offer a vehicle for Americans (and anyone else) to take part in the process of covering politics — as an act of citizenship, if they view it that way; for fun, if they view it that way; as a means for joining forces with other like-minded people to shed light on the 2012 campaign in ways other forms of reporting can’t.

Go here to sign up.

HuffPost Launches OffTheBus Citizen Journalism Project Ahead of 2012 Elections  

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09

07 2011

Pennsylvania Paper Praises Citizen Journalism

The Delaware County Daily Times in Pennsylvania recently lauded an example of how they used citizen journalists to help cover a story when their staff couldn’t be at all places at once.

The fact is we’re can’t be everywhere. That’s even more true on a holiday when we are operating with a short staff. Inevitably, a big story breaks out on a holiday. Monday’s standoff in Trainer certainly would be included in that category.

The Heron’s Nest: Citizen journalism pays off

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08

07 2011

Writing for free doesn’t have to mean betrayal

The US blog-led news site The Huffington Post launched its UK edition today.

It launched a Canadian version in May, but the UK edition will be the first one outside North America.

The Huffington Post was set up by Arianna Huffington in 2005 and bought by AOL earlier this year for $315m (£222m).

Since the acquisition took place complaints have been made by disgruntled unpaid bloggers on The Huffington Post who argue that some of the cash from the AOL deal should trickle down as fair compensation to those who have volunteered writing during the site’s enormous growth period.

In April, The Huffington Post was hit with a class action lawsuit by a group of bloggers who claim the massively popular site mistreats those who enrich it with content. Noted freelance journalist Jonathan Tasini is leading the proposed class action filed in New York’s federal court.

Journalist Kat Brown debates the value of writing for free in her blog on Huffington Post UK http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/kat-brown/writing-for-free-yeah-and_b_889706.html

*Arianna Huffington remains the president and editor-in-chief of Huffington Post Media Group.

 

 

 

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News Stories Begin With the End

A beginning writer recently asked about the difference between writing stories and writing the news.

With stories, the writer almost always starts at the beginning, expands on the story line and then winds up with an end. This format gives readers the enjoyment of becoming engaged in the story, becoming attached to the characters and the outcome.

A news story is just the opposite. In fact, reading a news story is like reading the end of the book first.

When you read a news story, you learn what happened in the first paragraph or two. You don’t have to dig through paragraph after paragraph of explanation to find that key information.

The first paragraph – or lead – summarizes the key items people want to know about a news event. The second and third paragraphs support the lead and provide additional answers, such as the how and why, and maybe even a quote. Succeeding paragraphs contain information that is secondary and can be listed in order of decreasing importance.

The information is organized this way so that it is easy for readers to understand the news quickly. It hits them head on, making it more convenient for them to quickly understand what happened and decide if they want to continue reading the article.

Readers who want just the basic facts without all the details can find it in those first few paragraphs and stop reading. Readers who want more details can keep reading to the end.

Susan Cormier is the co-author of the “Handbook for Citizen Journalists” (http://www.citizenjournalistnow.com/).

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06

07 2011

Discrepancy in Photo Evidence?

Sri Lankan site Groundviews uses Twitter to contact former UN spokesperson Gordon Weiss about photos that showed proof of government slaughtering of civilians during fights with the Tamil Tigers. After obtaining the photos, they opened them in Photoshop and checked the timestamp. The timestamp, which is a code placed in each photo file in by a camera to show when the photo was taken, did not correlate with the time of events in the report.

Through some simple investigation by this citizen outfit, it was found that these photos were problematic in being used to prove war crimes. Groundviews pointed out that the government and pro-government media would pick up on this as proof that allegations about war crimes are false.

Lesson: even if you have photographic proof, some simple gaps in fact checking will undermine all of your work.

WARNING: Graphic photos at the following link.

Photographic evidence of war crimes in Sri Lanka, or not? (Updated)

 

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05

07 2011