Thursday, April 19, 2007

Virginia Tech, the Always-on generation and citizen journalism

The tragic shooting at Virginia Tech once again brought to the fore the rising power of citizen journalism over the traditional news media.

1. Everyone with a communicating device is a reporter.
The young of today are more networked than ever before.

Om Malik writes,
Facebook and MySpace pages, LiveJournals, and Flickr give us back story and the unfiltered play-by-play.
We must not view the coverage of the shooting in terms of victory of a particular brand of social network (Facebook).

Doc Searls quotes Sci-fi writer William Gibson who once said, "The future is already here — it is just unevenly distributed".

Let me explain: not all human beings are as massively connected as the students of today are. Many villages in India are still not on the communication grid and big media often filters and manipulates most news coming out of these places to suit its 'requirements'.

2. We need more experience reporting from citizen reporters.
I am sure there is a massive need for experience reporting – the “man on the spot” stories, “what it feels like stories”, things that made BBC what it is today.

Writing about the Virginia Tech incident citizen journalism pioneer Dan Gillmor writes,
“We used to say that journalists write the first draft of history. Not so, not any longer. The people on the ground at these events write the first draft.”
Dan goes on say,
They brought to mind a blog post I spotted after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks by a young man in Brooklyn, N.Y., across the river from the World Trade Center. He wrote, “Now I know what a burning city smells like.”
3. CitiJ sites must aggregate news from universities and social network sites.
Jean Luc Goddard once said, “every edit is a lie.”

We need CitiJ cooperatives (as you know, AP is a cooperative) so that we can put a check on big media ‘editing’ stories.

In fact, I would like to think that a loose confederacy of embedded citizen reporters working out of universities, marketplaces, businesses would give a sound challenge to wire news-heavy MSM properties.

In the Virginia Tech case, big media companies like CNN, MSNBC were competing with those on the spot for ‘exclusives’ (a much abused media tactic).

4. User-generated content and traditional media can complement each other.

User generated content does not aim to eliminate big media (or, organized media). The idea is to bring a richer bouquet of voices into the conversation stream.

P.S. I am sure you must have read this Adage story about media companies buying Google Adwords keywords for the Virginia Tech shooting. (Via Boing Boing)



At 3:19 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Co-operatives of Citizen Journalism sites is a good idea.

Am sure someone would pick on it and experiment.


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