Stephanie Sword, a Griffith University communications student, asked me a few questions for an assignment. Below are Stephanie’s questions and my answers about Citizen Journalism: read on to see my comments on the term itself, and generally where I think the “citizen” fits in the evolving media environment.
In preparing this story on couriermail.com.au, BlackBerry seizure an ‘abuse of police powers’, I asked my followers on Twitter if anyone knew the law regarding what can or can not be photographed in Australia. I received a lot of feedback and links, and am posting them here in case they prove useful to others. Let it be known I am not a lawyer, nor an expert in the laws governing this topic. This is just a collection of interesting links, perhaps useful, but by no means comprehensive. Read more
In case there is anyone out there who thinks they don’t have the time to listen to Jay Rosen for six minutes and eight seconds, below is a transcript of the video of Jay Rosen moderating the SABEW conference workshop, Using Social Networking in Business Reporting.
USING SOCIAL NETWORKING IN BUSINESS REPORTING
Jay Rosen, New York University and author of PressThink blog
It’s not about the technology … The whole art of doing any kind of social network reporting is in organizing people
This is one of the most important things about the internet. This is one of the things that’s changing the world most profoundly today – is the falling costs for people with the same interests, or people of like mind, to find each other, share information, pool their knowledge, collaborate, and publish.
I’m going to say it again. The falling cost for like minded people to find each other, share information, collaborate and publish back to the rest of the world, is a major factor changing government, politics, media, social life – at the same time.
USING SOCIAL NETWORKING TOOLS TO IMPROVE THE REPORTING OF A BEAT REPORTER
We’re trying to figure out how we can use Gillmore’s insights, and the tools that we have now – like blogging, social networking tools – to actually improve the reporting that a beat reporter does on their
the potential is there to mobilize thousands of people on a single story
beat, and we’re several months into that project, and I can tell you some of what we’ve learned from it.
LESSON ONE: SLOW & DIFFICULT WORK, NO BREAKTHROUGHS TO REPORT
Our first lesson is that this is slow and difficult work, and that we don’t have any breakthroughs so far. That it’s a lot easier to understand the concept ‘My readers know more than I do’, than it is to work out a regimen in which that knowledge can actually flow in and start influencing the articles, and scoops, and series and so forth. So it’s slow and difficult work. We don’t have breakthroughs to report yet.
LESSON TWO: THERE IS NO FORMULA
Secondly there is, and I know this is frustrating, no formula for doing it yet. Because we can’t easily point to somebody who uses social network reporting to complete their beat every day.
LESSON THREE: ECONOMIC REALITY LIMITS TIME TO DEVOTE TO SOMETHING NEW
Third, one of the things we’ve learned is, in the current economic climate in most newsrooms, especially in newspapers, reporters are under a great deal of pressure. They not only have to produce on deadline, they have to produce more than they used to. And, despite their enthusiasm for this project when they signed up for it in November, the economic realities of the newsroom are such that many of them have almost no time to devote to something new.
And this is very much getting in the way because the immediate pay-offs in terms of scoops, meeting your production quotas or breaking big stories so that you can explain to your bosses why you’re putting time into your network are not really there, so this has become very frustrating for some of our people and it’s very much a sign of the times and a sign of the economic climate out there.
LESSON FOUR: IT’S NOT ABOUT THE TECHNOLOGY
My fourth lesson is by far the most important lesson that I’ve learned in this work.
It’s not about the technology. It’s not about what tools you use. It’s not about which blogging software you adopt. It’s not at all about whether you should use Facebook or Twitter or some of the other technologies that are out there. The whole art of doing any kind of social network reporting is in organizing people, and how people are engaged to help journalists, rather than the tools and technologies we have for reaching those people. And it’s hard to overestimate how important this is and how easy it is to forget it.
LESSON FIVE: THE TEN PER CENT RULE
The fifth important lesson is sometimes called, among those who study user-generated content, the ten per cent rule. The ten per cent rule is that if 100 people sign up for your network, if 100 people sign up for your citizen journalism project, about 10 of them will actually contribute anything in terms of content. Whether it’s a blog post, whether it’s comments in a thread, whether it’s tips sent in by email, about ten per cent will actively contribute. And one of those ten will become an extremely committed contributor, what is sometimes called super-contributors in online organizing.
THE CHALLENGE: GIVING YOUR AUDIENCE SOMETHING TO DO
And so the real challenge is not getting people to sign up or participate, it’s figuring out how to give them stuff they can do that actually makes its way into your report, so they can see the results of what they do. And if you can do that, people will participate.
THE POTENTIAL: MOBILIZING THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE ON A SINGLE STORY
And so if you want to know why am I here talking to you about this, it’s because the potential is there to mobilize thousands of people on a single story.
WWW.TALKINGPOINTSMEMO.COM – a model internet news site
The model of an internet news organization is this one, because it is completely involved in filtering, processing, editing this huge inflow from readers, packaging it as news stories and blog posts, sending it back out which in turn stimulates more inflow from the readers.