There are currently 10 sessions going on at once as well as the tradeshow. I may need to clone myself about 4 times over in order to cover everything – although I’m not even going to try. I am interested, however, in the Citizen Journalism track so the next two live blogs will be on this post. The first is “The State of Citizen Journalism” with panelists Tish Grier (of Placeblogger), Michael Tippett (founder, NowPublic), and Jan Schaffer (of J-Lab).
Update: Jan is up first to touch on the hyper-local side of citizen journalism, using the Deerfield, NH forum as an example. Their aspirations were to be a local paper but they’ve gone bigger than that online with over 220 current contributors to the site. “People are wanting to cover their community from inside-out instead of outside-in.” There are a lot of independent news sites that are hoping to close a gap. New Media Women: “Our attempt to try and understand if women were to define news, how would they define it.”
“Citizens seek to build community, not cover it,” notes Jane. “Something that makes some traditional media cringe is that citizen media makers will go to a community meeting and cover it chronologically.” You can view a large collection of citizen journalism/hyper-local sites on KNCC.
Update: Mike is up next to give a different perspective. “We want to build the largest citizen news network in the world,” which might be possible because, “there’s more of us than there are of them.” – “Asking someone to be a citizen journalist is like asking someone to be a citizen dentist.”
Mike leads us all through the history of NowPublic and all of its features then gives an example of things happening in real time, being reported, shared and causing change. He uses the example of the Zuckerberg interview at SXSW, where the crowd was Twittering and having a backchannel conversation about the soft-ball questions until someone spoke up and they handed the mic over to the audience.
Update: Tish now asks the panel what their business model is like, and especially how would a hyper-local site generate revenue, support, or grant money. In essence, it’s not about the buck. Mike says it’s like someone asking, “Why would people want to do that,” to which he’d reply, “Well why are we having this conversation? You’re not paying me…” For many it’s all about engagement with their community and others simply want to tell stories, share, be a source, and another voice.
Local entrepreneurship meets social media – a woman from the audience says her hyper-local site likes helping small business in the city and although they get may sometimes criticized in a “sell-out” kind of manner by some readers, she appreciates giving them the exposure to the community they may not be able to get. This also opens up the door for monetizing, sort of a win-win for business and the community site.
Back to traditional media embracing all of these new tools, Mike says they need to re-engage with community. “The trust has moved from the media institutions, over to social networks. You’re going to trust something recommended from a friend.”
Jason Falls is here to comment, “I think if we continue on this downward spiral in mainstream media and citizen journalism, I think at some point in the general public they’re going to ask okay where does the accuracy come from?” – “How do you see traditional media bringing that accuracy to citizen journalism in a blend of both?”
It’s almost like the more open you get, the more accurate you get.” Mike says that by opening up the conversation with comments etc. on your site, it helps hold you accountable when people can share their voice etc. as well.