What is Participatory Journalism?

After doing some research on participatory journalism i finally found a good example, and explanation of what it is.  On big news network websites anyone can participate in a news story and write their own story of what they saw in order to inform the news station on an issue.  Participatory journalists do not have to be professional journalists, but are generally “amateur,” journalists or just normal citizens.  Anyone can post a news story on a website, or contribute to a news story, and now all large news networks such as NBC, CNN, FOX, ABC, etc. allow anyone to become a journalist, and post their own news story that they have witnessed. If someones story is important enough and big enough their story might actually become an actual news story.  An example of this is IReport, on CNN.  Another example of participatory journalism is adding ones own opinion to a news story that has already been covered, or is being covered, and any citizen can become a journalist by writing about their own thoughts.  I feel that participatory journalism is really just a new type of journalism that allows anyone to become a journalist whether they are a professional or a so called “amateur.”  Participatory journalism is a newly developed division of journalism in my opinion, and can really only be done because of the advancements in technology and the internet.  Without advancement in technology people couldn’t report their own news on large news networks, or write their own opinions on stories being covered because there would be no websites available to allow us do to so.  Anyone can become a journalist nowadays due to the internet, and one doesn’t have to actually become a professional in order to voice their opinion, or own news story.  I think most news stories are going to come from participatory journalists who are “amateur” writers in the future because the internet allows normal citizens to do so.  Here is a link to one of many sites i looked at, and the site i feel most describes what participatory journalism really is.



One comment

  1. While I agree in the general sense with the birds eye view of participatory journalism, I see some important distinctions between user generated content on mass media sites (such as message boards) and the grass-roots type of participatory journalism that Lievrouw discusses with her demonstration of IMC. By the very nature of participatory journalism and its values, any story revealed by an average citizen or independent journalist on a mass media site would be regarded as contrary to what the new media movement is trying to do. Even something as simple as posting on the web site of NBC or FOX gives them a certain amount of power and therefore would not be seen as participatory journalism. Rather, this could be seen as a successful manipulation for the oligopoly of media in convincing consumers that despite participating on their servers, they are actually practicing journalism.
    I believe that the IMC network is a good example of the problems that arise with these alternative media outlets. While Lievrouw hints at this at the end of the chapter by alluding to historical elements of alternative media, such a pirate radio, I feel this form of media is unsuccessful for other reasons as well. I am going to save some of these feelings for class discussion, however, I will expound on the aforementioned comment briefly. While the model created by the IMC through its ‘bill of rights’, for lack of a better term, is indeed a strong model for an organization such as this one, it is solid enough to see the IMC expand and flourish for any considerable length of time. As the size of the organization changes, so therein changes the effectiveness of its mission. This is due to the nature of autonomy. She mentions at one point that they make decisions from the ground up using a consensus based decision making model. If this were the case, I would have liked to have known if the seventy representatives from the global movement who came together to make decisions were first given answers to these questions by the members in the respective areas they were representing. Otherwise, this seems to be hierarchical and not truly consensus based. What I am getting at here is that the model created by the IMC could indeed have worked. The reason I believe it didn’t is because a small and radical alternative media outlet not only needs to be concerned about capital to remain fully self-supporting, but need to do so all the while competing with a well oiled machine that has a monopolized foothold in society. There is no room for discrepancy if the IMC were to succeed, which is why I agree those who objected to the 50,000 dollar grant. Once you accept outside help, regardless of what justification is given for it (i.e.it’s a grant), you become affiliated with the organization from whom you are receiving support. Bill Wilson, founder of Alcoholics Anonymous in the 1950’s, recognized this fact. When many organizations with differing reputations recognized the success of the fellowship, they made offers, some grand, in order to help funding AA. Wilson rejected because he realized that to take a donation from someone other than a member of the fellowship would serve to create problems for its members. In order to maintain independence one must be fully self-supporting. This is now bordering on a rant with absolutely no fluidity or direction so I will wrap it up with that and look forward to continued discussion in class tomorrow.

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