Citizen Media Watch

november 30th, 2006

Oscar Swartz to set up citizen journalism wiki

Posted by Lotta Holmstrom

Today free speech-activist Oscar Swartz writes that he is to set up a ”structure” for citizen journalism about free communication, immaterial rights and surveillance in Berlin and Stockholm. Swartz recently received a II-stiftelsen grant of SEK 150 000 to expand his blog and start a wiki for ground-breaking citizen journalism. He doesn’t reveal the exact details of this structure, but has earlier stated that the result will be ”a journalistic think-tank working with Open Source ideology as a base”.
Like me, Swartz met with Dan Gillmor Friday, and he took the opportunity to ask for his thoughts on the project. Somewhat surprisingly, Gillmor thought traditional journalism might work better for this field, but if they succeed they’d be pioneers. The key would be to break the work down into smaller tasks, Gillmor said according to Swartz.

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november 30th, 2006

Information overload? Not when RSS readers get smarter

Posted by Lotta Holmstrom

A new service aims to take the stress out of RSS reading. It’s easy to sign up for more feeds than you have time to read. In comes Blastfeed, a keyword based filter that sorts out what you’re really interested in in all the feeds you’re subscribing to.
You can use for instance your bloglines blog list, since the service is OPML based, writes Beta Alfa 2.0.

I certainly subscribe to more RSS feeds than I read, nulling them from time to time to get a fresh start. I’ll check out Blastfeed and see how it works for me. My guess is that the keyword based search is a first step towards more intelligent filtering, where you can weight different keywords and have multiple channels for your searches.

The site is in beta, but Steve Rubel has 100 invites to give away, and says you’re welcome to email him.

Similar services:
Feedreader | mySyndicaat | Feed digest | Tailrank | Feed rinse


november 28th, 2006

Reporters without borders issues handbook for bloggers

Posted by Lotta Holmstrom

The organisation Reporters without borders released a pdf document in 2005 titled ”Handbook for bloggers and cyber-dissidents”, offering hands-on tips for bloggers in countries where freedom of speech is restricted.
Reporters without borders write:

Bloggers are often the only real journalists in countries where the mainstream media is censored or under pressure. Only they provide independent news, at the risk of displeasing the government and sometimes courting arrest.
Reporters Without Borders has produced this handbook to help them, with handy tips and technical advice on how to to remain anonymous and to get round censorship, by choosing the most suitable method for each situation.

Dan GillmorDan Gillmor has a chapter in the document about blogging ethics, and Ethan Zucherman gives advice on how to blog anonymously. A chapter called Personal Accounts gives perspectives from around the world.
Read more here, or download the pdf document which is very much worth reading even if you live in a free country.

Ethiopia is one country that is trying to limit the public’s access to certain blogs. Mark Comerford currently teaches there, and has some interesting things to report in his blog.


november 28th, 2006

BBC pioneering "citizen tv" with Your News

Posted by Lotta Holmstrom

BBC News 24’s launch of Your News, a tv news program to be made up of user-generated content, marks another step in the convergence of citizen and established media. The pilot of the show was aired Saturday, and was comprised of material sent to the BBC by its viewers, readers etc, and also a top 10 list of the most talked about news on BBC News’ site.

”We are a BBC news program, we just don’t look like all the others. And the stories and images you will see over the next 20 minutes or so, you won’t see anywhere else..” says Richard Bilton in the pilot.

”It is a short pilot run at first to see how it goes, but the first edition was watched by more than 300 000 people”, writes Kevin Bakhurst, controller of BBC News 24.

Viewers are encouraged to get in touch with Your News and suggest what they should look at more closely. Not all material is actually made by the viewers, but they have the initiative.
So the story initiatives come from the citizens, but the tv reporters then follow up and try to answer questions posed by the viewers.
You News also has a mobile studio they travel around with, where people can record themself stating what they’d like to see on tv.

You can watch the pilot here.

BBC has been in the frontline in the UK for reader participation for quite some time, the Have Your Say section being the hub for all of this. It’ll be interesting to see how this evolves.

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november 27th, 2006

Citizen media: A definition

Posted by Lotta Holmstrom

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. has a good list of what citizen journalism efforts are out there today.

november 2006
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