Citizen media: A definition
What is citizen media? What media? What citizens? How? I set out to find out how others had defined it.
Here’s Wikipedia‘s take:
Citizen Media, Participatory Media, or Democratic Media refers to any form of content produced by private citizens, which has as its goal to inform and empower all members of society. This includes inclusive production models such as public access, community technology centers, digital storytelling, e-democracy, citizen journalism, zines, Independent Media Centers, blogs, vlogs (video blogs), and podcasting (audio blogs).
Citizen Media can be in the form of news or citizen journalism, public affairs, entertainment, or diaries/blogs. It can be factual, satirical, radical, revolutionary, and challenging. It tends to serve a local audience, but can also be of a worldwide scope.
This blog will look at all kinds of citizen media initiatives. However, I expect the focus will be on citizen/participatory journalism. The reason I’m going for the broader concept is that there’s quite a lot of citizen media that isn’t journalism. If this would be a blog about only citizen journalism or participatory journalism as it is also sometimes called, it would be very difficult to limit it to that only. There are so many interesting citizen media initiatives that I think will also affect journalism in the long run.
Kelly McBride of PoynterOnline is one of many people pointing out the distinction between citizen journalism and citizen media. For instance, established media’s initiatives to have readers contribute is rarely journalism, she states.
It’s great that newspapers host these sites. It’s a wonderful service for community. They are often interesting, vibrant and exciting. But it’s not journalism. So don’t call it that. Journalism is an independent act of gathering and assembling information by an organization. The work is completed in service of the audience. The journalists’ loyalities are with the reader and viewer.
CyberJournalist.net has a good list of what citizen journalism efforts are out there today.