Saturday, October 30, 2010

Attempted Citizen Journalism

I came across a lot of challenges when participating in citizen journalism. The assignment said I had to contribute a story to a news site, so the first challenge became coming up with something that I could write about. I decided to write a first hand account of efforts going on around campus to get students to vote in the upcoming election. Next, I searched for an online place to put my story. I tried accessing "OhmyNews," but it came up in Korean, so I decided to try another one. I found CNN's "iReport" which looks to be a great source for participatory media. CNN makes a point to notify readers that everything within iReport is directly from citizens and not an official news source. I tried several times to make a log in name so I could upload my story. For whatever reason, I was completely unable to make a name on this site. Every time I tried registering (no matter which Internet browser I used) the form came up with an "error" that the password I was choosing could not have a "space" in it, and needed to be 6-10 characters long. While I followed all of those rules, it never accepted my password. Next, I decided to see if I could find an English version of Ohmynews. The good news is that I found it (, but the bad news was that the site no longer allowed new content to be added in. At this point, I felt pretty frustrated. I finally looked for Helium. This site looks great - there are tons of ways to contribute a news story! Writers can even get paid for their content, because publishers can register and buy content from the site for their publication or organization. To sign up, you had to enter in a lot of personal information, so I opted out.

In my experience, I definitely found to be the best example of a participatory media site. For each topic, several people have posted articles so readers can find a lot of different perspectives on the same issue. This helps readers become more informed and serves as a check for citizen journalists to write accurately. While this is a great aspect of the site, it can also hinder readership. For example, the topic "winning the war against terrorism" has 62 articles listed under it. I'm not sure that anyone has the time or patience to read through 62 articles on one topic, and there is no way to filter through the articles to find which is most relevant to what you are looking for.

1 comment:

  1. I think your experience with citizen journalism and Web sites like Helium, Ohmynews and iReport demonstrate the barriers to entry that inhibit the progress and success of this novel concept.
    First and foremost, people must have knowledge of the journalism process in order to write a story that is informative and lacks bias.
    In addition, those aspiring to be citizen journalists must have the technological wherewithal to navigate and post on the Internet. It seems that technical errors on Web sites likes iReport and Ohmynews only serve to enhance these barriers to entry.
    Lastly, while citizen journalism fulfills one's sense of civic duty and obligation, the lack of material and monetary incentives further inhibit participation. Without credible rewards, some people may lack the time, effort or motivation to serve as citizen journalists.
    Citizen journalism is an extremely interesting concept and has the potential to aid citizens and the communities they live in. However, the barriers to entry listed above must first be dealt with in order to guarantee success.