Archive for the ‘Opinion’Category

Friday Opinions 2012-02-03

Here are some thoughts floating around the web.

In Year of Uprisings, Reporters Brave Crackdowns from Wall St. to Tahrir Square (Michelle Chen, Common Dreams)

The Democrats Who Unleashed Wall Street and Got Away With It (Robert Scheer, Common Dreams)

Corporate Education Reformers Plot Next Steps at Secretive Meeting: ALEC Education “Academy” Launches on Island Resort (Dustin Beilke, Common Dreams)

Facebook IPO: China features throughout (Thomas Crampton)

Jon Stewart, Media Critic (Tony Rogers, About.com Journalism)

Good journalism AND good capatalism (Mark Briggs, Journalism 2.0)

Why journalists have always had an entrepreneurial streak (Alfred Hermida, Reportr.net)

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03

02 2012

Friday Opinions 2012-01-27

A penny for your thoughts–but these are free.

How Swedes and Norwegians Broke the Power of the ‘1 Percent’ (George Lakey, Common Dreams)

Debate Club: Did the US Withdraw from Iraq Too Soon? (Phyllis Bennis, Common Dreams)

Students Step Up Tucson Walkouts (Jeff Biggers, Common Dreams)

Should Journalists Be Truth Vigilantes? (Tony Rogers, About.com Journalism)

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27

01 2012

Friday Opinions 2012-01-20

Here are some editorials from CJ sources.

Amy Goodman: The SOPA Blackout Protest Makes History (Common Dreams)

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20

01 2012

Note to Citizen Journalism Sites: Get a Subscribe Button

There is a reason that magazines have an option to subscribe. People aren’t always going to venture out every time there’s a new issue. So why not have a subscription option on your website?

At OMNI, we gather news from a lot of citizen journalism websites. Yet we can only do this efficiently through subscriptions. There are not enough hours in a workday to go to every single CJ site one by one. That’s true of readers too. They don’t have time to pull up every site they like to read. They likely have already comfied up to their own portal sites, so don’t think that they’ll suddenly make your site their homepage.

It’s one of the basics of any site with dynamic content. If your content changes, like a blog, you MUST have a subscription option. Yet when I go out to scour for new CJ sites, HALF of them won’t let me subscribe. And even more of them have the subscription option buried at the bottom.

If your site is serious about gaining readership you need to cover the basics. Make a subscription feed. Google’s Feedburner is excellent for this. It makes it simple. When you have made your feed, make a prominent subscribe chicklet near the top of your pages. I find it funny that some sites have prominent “follow me” buttons for Facebook and Twitter, but they don’t have the basic button to actually follow their sites!

Get a button. Put it on your site. We at OMNI have a nice little button at the top of ours. Not flamboyant. Just do it because we want to read your content.

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15

11 2011

Journalists STILL Need to Watch Government

A perfect example of the importance of journalists presented itself in my hometown of Elbert County, Colo., this week.

A water district was seeking approval of an expansion plan that would allow it to export hundreds of millions of gallons of water out of Elbert County.

The proposal was expected to be voted upon by the county commissioners on Wednesday, Aug. 24. About a 1,000 concerned citizens reportedly showed up at that meeting to voice their opposition. Instead, however, they received the news that the request had been withdrawn – at least temporarily.

According to a news report in The Denver Post on Aug. 25, Elbert County residents for weeks had been questioning “the speed with which the proposal was being considered and the secrecy surrounding it. Little, if anything, was posted on the county website. Some residents said the only information they could find was in newspaper reports.”

Did you catch that last point? Residents didn’t learn about the water district’s plans by looking on the county website. They had to rely on newspaper reports for their information.

This situation reinforces what I’ve always believed. Journalists – whether professionals or citizens – are crucial to keeping our society informed and our government in check.

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

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26

08 2011

What could we have done to save Amy Winehouse?

 

Death is perhaps the one certainty in life. Most of us think that our eventual demise will be in the distant future.

This wasn’t to be the case for the soulful, bluesy and angst-ridden young singer-songwriter Amy Winehouse.

The news that the undoubtedly gifted 27-year-old award – winning Brit had died, alone in her flat in trendy Camden, northwest London and probably from a lethal cocktail of drugs and alcohol sounds like the dismal and clichéd end of life experienced by many immortalised rock stars like Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix .

Amy’s physical and mental decline in the last few years has been the subject of intrusive reporting by the tabloid press in the UK and abroad. Drug and alcohol addiction, eating disorders, self-harming and a disastrous marriage to co-dependent substance abuser Blake Fielder-Civil led to a number of spells in rehab clinics. Paparazzi – published photos of her near emaciated frame, covered in unsightly and meaningless tattoos, staggering out of pubs and nightclubs in the early hours of the morning were splashed across the pages of celebrity obsessed magazines. No one needed a clairvoyant to predict the probable outcome of this tragic story.

However, like many others including fans and her contemporaries I’m shocked by the brutal suddenness of Amy’s death.

The immediacy of access to news and the sharing of information on the internet has made large sections of the public feel like participants in the lives of famous people like Amy rather than voyeurs. By following the minutiae of Amy’s turbulent life on newspaper websites like Mail Online they feel a connection with her which is beyond a simple appreciation of her music.

The collective sharing of grief on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter at a life spoilt and cut short resonates with the personal experiences of those who have had an “Amy” in their lives: an alcoholic, neglectful parent or an abusive, addict partner. This outpouring of emotion should not be ridiculed.

I had an overwhelming feeling of sadness and underlying frustration when I heard about the final chapter of Amy’s life. It was the same sense of waste and futility I experienced on learning about Michael Jackson and even Paula Yates 11 years ago.

A while back Amy obtained an injunction against paparazzi photographers.  The court order banned a leading paparazzi agency from following her. Photographers were also banned from following her within 100 metres of her home and photographing Amy in her home or the home of her friends and family. According to a newspaper report, sources close to the singer said legal action was taken out of concern for the safety of Amy and those close to her.

Amy’s seemingly devoted father Mitch will be devastated I thought. Why wasn’t he with her or why wasn’t anyone with her? Why was she left on her own? I asked myself. She was weak and vulnerable.

A friend commented that if he was Amy’s manager he’d have kept a watch on her 24/7.

What could I have done to help Amy? The answer is nothing. The reality is I didn’t know her.

*A blog post written by Deborah Hobson and reproduced with permission from The-Latest.Com.

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26

07 2011

Journalists Must Have Integrity

In the “Handbook for Citizen Journalists,” co-author Ron Ross and I included a section on 15 core values that we believe should be upheld by professional and citizen journalists alike.

In light of the recently reported unethical practices involving Rupert Murdoch’s publications, it seems like a good time to discuss some of those core values.

Perhaps especially poignant is core value #15: Integrity. The following is how the handbook describes its importance.

“One gets a sense of the importance of integrity to the journalism profession by this powerful sentence found in the Preamble of the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics: ‘Professional integrity is the cornerstone of a journalist’s credibility.’

“Unfortunately, journalism’s cornerstone of integrity has been crumbling in the last few years. The profession has suffered because of widely-reported and well-documented examples of journalistic bias, fraud, plagiarism and fabrication. The cornerstone needs to be restored.

“Citizen journalists must join the many serious professional journalists who still adhere to the ethics and standards that made journalism a valuable and honorable profession. It all begins with integrity.

“Integrity is the virtue of basing all of an individual’s words and deeds on an unswerving framework of personally-held, well-developed principles. This means one must know what is right and wrong, good and evil, helpful and hurtful, and then act accordingly, even at personal cost. Integrity could be called the virtue of all virtues.

“Journalistic integrity suffers when reporters allow their bias to dictate which story to cover and what facts to reveal or hide. Journalistic integrity suffers when stories are made up and presented as real, when phony evidence is offered as authentic and when made-up quotes are repeated as real. The biggest challenge is that once integrity is lost, it is difficult to re-establish.

“Integrity starts from within. Those who live and work with integrity will be empowered and respected by all. Those who act with integrity will bewilder those who are deceitful and enlighten those who are sincere; it’s a wonderful thing.”

Susan Cormier is the co-author of the “Handbook for Citizen Journalists,” which can be purchased as an e-book at http://www.citizenjournalistnow.com/.

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22

07 2011

Arianna Continues to Spread her Wings

Arianna Huffington apparently isn’t bothered by all the complaints from bloggers and citizen journalists who are angry they haven’t been paid for their years of contributions to The Huffington Post.

In fact, she invited bloggers this week to begin contributing to a similar venture with AOL’s Patch.com.

Called “Local Voices,” the new expansion of AOL’s local online news sites seeks bloggers to “complement Patch’s original reporting” in the United States, Huffington said in her announcement on Wednesday.

Local Voices “includes a vision that will utilize every possible resource to ensure accurate, relevant and comprehensive coverage,” including “our ever-expanding network of Patch editors and reporters . . . and cross-posting and amplifying the work of local bloggers who are already doing great work, providing them an even more powerful platform for expressing their views,” according to Huffington.

That’s all fine and dandy, but will this new concept anger an even larger number of bloggers and citizen journalists who would like to get paid for their work? And will those protests lead to boycotts and make AOL regret pouring millions into the project?

AOL reportedly has spent $40 million on Patch in the first quarter of this year alone. It also spent $315 million for The Huffington Post in February.

Or will this project, as AOL hopes, help it regain its prominence on the Internet?

This is one story that is fascinating to watch.

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

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07

05 2011

Not all Contributors are Citizen Journalists

Due to recent news reports and discussions among citizen journalists, it appears time to take a look at the different types of so-called citizen journalists.

At the National Association of Citizen Journalists, co-founder Ron Ross and I find there are different categories of writers with different goals and intentions.

In our “Handbook for Citizen Journalists,” Ross takes it a step further and describes accidental journalists, advocacy citizen journalists and citizen journalists.

“Just because someone uses a cell phone camera to photograph an incident and then uploads it to Flickr or Facebook, it does not make that person a citizen journalist,” Ross writes in Chapter 5.

Ross and I believe these accidental journalists are among those contributing to the news coverage of large news events, such as those happening in Libya and Japan. They also are sought out by local TV stations to help provide coverage for fires, extraordinary weather and some other news items.

According to our handbook: “Accidental journalists are people who are caught unexpectedly in the middle of an event and take photos or videos and upload them to either social networking websites such as Facebook, MySpace or Twitter, or news websites such as CNN’s iReport or Fox News’ uReport.’’

We appreciate their willingness to take the time and contribute eyewitness reports of the events that are surrounding them.

Then, there are the advocacy journalists. These folks have a bias and tend to report only the side of the story they want you to hear.

“Advocacy journalism is a genre of journalism that adopts a viewpoint for the sake of advocating on behalf of a social, political, business or religious purpose. It is journalism with an intentional and transparent bias,” Ross writes in our handbook.

Neither of these types of journalists is what we consider a true citizen journalist, or as one blogger wrote recently – an enthusiastic citizen journalist.

True – or enthusiastic – citizen journalists work hard at their craft. They are trained. They strive to tell all sides of the story in an accurate manner.

These are the citizens who would deserve to get paid for their efforts. Not the one-time citizen at the scene of an earthquake or the biased advocate who is trying to sway you to his or her side of the debate.

Susan Cormier is the head coach in charge of training at the National Association of Citizen Journalists (http://nacj.us/) and co-author of the “Handbook for Citizen Journalists” (http://www.citizenjournalistnow.com/).

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08

04 2011

Libyan Citizen Journalist’s Death Highlights Ease of Reporting in U.S.

The death of a citizen journalist in Libya reminds me how easy citizen journalists have it in the United States.

U.S. citizen journalists never have to fear for their lives. They never have to face censorship or reprimand, as long as they follow the laws of the land and the ethics of the profession.

They can go out in the field, ask questions and write stories they believe will inform their neighbors about the happenings in their communities and the actions of their local governments.

Such wasn’t the case for Mohammad Nabbous, described as the “face of citizen journalism in Libya,” who reportedly was shot dead by forces of Libyan leader Moammar Khadafy on Saturday, March 19.

Nabbous was credited with setting up Libya al-Hurra (“freedom”) TV, which broadcast raw feeds and commentary from Benghazi on Livestream.

Nabbous isn’t the only one who has been put in danger in an effort to report the news and keep the populous informed about what is truly happening.

Seven professional journalists who had been previously captured were released on Monday and Wednesday, according to news reports. At least 10 others are still missing or being detained, including six Libyan journalists who reportedly have been critical of the government.

So, U.S. citizen journalists what’s stopping you? Please take advantage of the freedoms offered by this country. Get your notepad and go outside and start asking questions. You are lucky. You have nothing to fear.

Susan Cormier is the head coach in charge of training at the National Association of Citizen Journalists (http://nacj.us/) and co-author of the “Handbook for Citizen Journalists” (http://www.citizenjournalistnow.com/).

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24

03 2011