Citizen Media Watch

januari 12th, 2011

Citizen Media Watch says goodbye and hello

Posted by lotta
Gitta Willén och Lotta Holmström

Gitta Wilén and Lotta Holmström. Photo: Pelle Sten

This will be the last post at Citizen Media Watch. As you might have noticed, we haven’t posted in ages. Our focus has been elsewhere, and continue to be so, so with some regret we are making it official that this blog is now simply an archive of our previous posts. We’ll keep it a “landmark only”.

We have met a lot of interesting people and had great conversations along the way. We hope our old posts will shed some light on an era that came and went quite quickly, but changed journalism in many ways.

Over the years we’ve addressed countless issues, for instance we wrote about Wikileaks before it got public. Here are some of our other favorites.

First and last blog post
Citizen media: A definition. The very first blog post.

Thinkpublic – designing with people. The last post, with many thanks to Brit Stakston for the video interview with Ella Britton at Think Public.

Gitta: I think that think public, both on land and online, will grow as a phenomenon and become a way to create a more open and smarter communication.

A global perspective
We had an ambition to cover not only citizen media in the western world, but to some extent have a global perspective. We’ve written about projects and events in China, Sri Lanka, Belarus, India, Korea, Thailand, Brazil, Iraq, Singapore, Tunisia and Lebanon.

Lotta: Citizen journalism’s strength is most shown in countries where freedom of speech is limited. The Tunisia prison map is one great example, there are many others. With internet access ordinary people can report first hand on troubling events.

The newsroom of Folha onLine, São Paulo, Brazil.
Photo: Gitta Wilén

Brazil’s no. 1 online newspaper Fohla OnLine – and its bloggers. Gitta’s first guest post at CMW, before she became a regular blogger here. It got numerous hits from Brazilian readers: a visit at the editorial desk at Folha OnLine, in São Paulo, Brasil.

A warm welcome to Gitta Wilén

Lotta: It was a natural development of this blog for me to invite Gitta to be a 50/50 collaborator after her having contributed three great guest posts. We make a good team!

Gitta: It has been totally awesome all the way working with Lotta and CMW. We are both storytellers, work-o-holics and Internet addicts.

Hyperlocal and geotagging
Over the years we spent writing at CMW, hyperlocal news went from the next hot thing to failing because hyperlocal markets weren’t ready, to now again being quite interesting since geotagging and geolocation through smartphones is really taking off.

• Here’s one of many posts on this topic: Geotagging makes YouTube videos local at iCommunity.TV.

Lotta: Just look at Gowalla, FourSquare and now also Facebook’s recent integration with Places. We tell stories based on where we are, to a select number of people or to the world. Collaborative maps pinpointing events certainly have their place on major news sites too.

Gitta: It has taken far more time to get there than I thought i would. I seriously thought that geotagging would be implemented and a part of our navigation tools, much earlier. But, let’s handle it wisely and with care.

Teaching and talking
We got opportunities to lecture from our experiences at CMW. For instance Gitta was invited by Jonas Söderström (Inuse), to teach web journalism at Fojo.

Gitta: I managed a one week web journalism seminar at Fojo, with a group of independent Belarus journalists and held some lectures for Belarus journalist students, from the Istitute of Journalism, Zjurfak, at the Belarus State University, BGU. Being the teacher I learned a lot about their situation. Freedom of expression is not to be taken for granted.

Thanks to Fredrik Wackå, Lotta got invited to the university in Karlstad to speak about the role of journalists in future media.

Lotta: I was asked who else they should invite, and thus got the opportunity to suggest Robin Hamman of (then) the BBC and to meet him and discuss the Manchester blogging project I had been following since 2006.

Guestblogging at Mindpark
Will there be a dark period for journalism? Some thoughts after listening to the journalism debate at SIME 2008. Also published in Swedish at Mindpark. Joakim Jardenberg is a keen Creative Commons advocate, and he also blogged about our SIME interview with Joi Ito.

Gitta: I has been an honour to collaborate with Joakim Jardenberg as a member of the Mindpark blogging team. Both Lotta and I admire his will to unrelentingly guard the soul of the web.


We had a talk with Joi Ito about hyperlocal citizen media and Creative Commons, among other things.
Photo: Lotta Holmström

Joi Ito: Don’t sign bad licenses. Our meeting with Joi Ito, and a discussion about hyperlocal citizen media.

Gitta: Our meeting with Joi Ito was one the memorable experiences from my time with CMW. Creative Commons is one of the most interesting movement on the Internet.

The future of journalism
The shift from megaphone to discussion partner was a major one, and is probably the one topic we’ve covered the most. Here are some of our posts on the matter.

Personal transparency, the eleventh change for journalism and Personal journalism, the future of online reporting. Some thoughts on the role of future journalists.

Sandra Jakob at – It’s not laziness, it is fear. One of many geek girls with great ideas in a series of video interviews.

The Lebanese ambulance attack and trust in citizen – and established – media. On trustable sources, bias, traditional media and the blogosphere.

Swedish news sites narrowing the gap to the blogosphere and The Twingly effect. When Swedish news sites first connected to the blogosphere.

Lotta: I was working at Aftonbladet in February 2006 when they started Läsarbladet, The Readers’ Daily, and I became Readers’ Editor. It was an attempt to engage the readers to contribute with journalistic material to the site, and to create an alternative starting point with the most read and liked stuff in focus, as opposed to the editors’ choices.

It soon became obvious that as an online tabloid it was easy to get readers to send us great photos of their cats and creative gingerbread houses, but enormously difficult to get initiated articles from readers on today’s topics. Later Newsmill proved it could be done, though in the form of opinion material, and also showed the need for asking the right questions.

Gitta and Lotta with Ruiwen Chua and Sriram Krishnan from NUS.
Photo: Brendalene Tan

Students of Singapore conferences and the social media bubble on Jaiku
Hej! 2007 live updates. Live blogging from Hej! 2007 and meeting all the great people there, who soon conversed on microblogging service Jaiku.
Why Jaiku outshines Twitter. Fond memories from the Jaiku era.

Gitta: I worked and lived in Singapore, year 2000–2001, starting up the Icon Medialab office. When the NUS guys invited us, parts of what later should be named as ”Bubblan” on Jaiku, to their KTH projects, I felt like home. I would like to send all my love to: Sriram, Ruiwen, Ramkumar and Mahesh.

Lotta: Hej!2007 and the following Stockholm NUS events showed us Swedes what unconferencing was all about, and led the way to great (un)conferences like SSWC and Annika Lidne’s Disruptive Media conference series with integrated Twitter feeds on display. I really enjoyed going to Singapore with Gitta and meeting up with the NUS guys again in 2008.

The blogosphere

Blogging is of course a great tool for citizen media, and it’s gone from a marginal activity to becoming mainstream.
How many Swedish blogs are there? An attempt to sum up the Swedish blogosphere in 2007 which got some attention.

CMW <3 geek girls
We were invited on a bloggers pass at Sime 2008, thank you Andie och Mahesh. Since we are two proud GeekGirls we took the opportunity to talk to YouTube phenomenon Mia Rose about her music and techie geekiness. The interview put on Youtube has reached over 17 000 fans, so far.

Mia Rose: Portray yourself with your true colours. An interview that attracted a large and quite different readership than we were used to.

Things we wish we had devoted more time to
Where’s the money? A lot of citizen journalism projects met an early end due to lack of resources. Backfence is one of many examples.

Backfence’s Mark Potts: We’re re-evaluating our strategy. Email interview with the Backfence co-founder after I posted Trouble at Backfence?

Being successful using the web to collaborate and ask for material for making hardcover books sounds kind of awkward in the era of the ebook, but it works really well for Fredrik and Teo Hären. There are lots of more examples and yes we should have written all about them.

• Teo Härén about their series of Idea books: Invite, collaborate and share – the money

Gitta: I would liked to been able to write more about business opportunities made wisely, on the web and via communication social media.

Lotta: Starting out we were examining a fairly new territory. My focus was on understanding it and its future implications. I think now that perhaps we should have moved on sooner to looking at the revenue aspect, even though we did address it some. I guess the main reason I didn’t focus much on it is that it’s not what makes me tick. I’m a sucker for creative ideas not too limited by the harsh reality of economics.

From now om Citizen Media Watch is a landmark only, but this is not a goodbye, this is a HELLO!

Lotta: (sw/en), (sw) & (en, photo blog)

Gitta: (in Swedish only).

Lotta Holmström & Gitta Wilén

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november 12th, 2009

Thinkpublic – designing with people

Posted by Gitta Wilen

Ella Britton at Geek Girl Meetup
Ella Britton at Geek Girl Meetup #2. Photo: Lotta Holmström.

Thinkpublic are an agency focused on using design to improve service experiences in the public sector. Their methods include social anthropological research, design, film and workshops.
Ella Britton presented their work at the Geek Girl Meetup #2 in Stockholm, Sweden, 24–25 October 2009.

Ella Britton talked about social innovation through user involvement in the public sector.
The process of involving the service users and the service providers is as important as the actual result. A simple solution can solve a big problem. It is great to be listened to. To be able to share and learn.
– We are using a process of discovering and diagnosing the problem, and then co designing the solution. That co designing methodology is Thinkpublic leaders in, Ella says.

Brit Stakston at JMW Kommunikation did an interview for Citizen Media Watch. Watch Ella Briton talk about their method, the process and their key success factors:

Citizen Media Watch wants to thank Brit Stakston for grabbing the opportunity to have a conversation with Ella Britton, even though we ended up on the pavement and all the noise from the street.

Geek Girl Meetup 09
Brit Stakston at the Geek Girl Meetup #2. Film and photo: Gitta Wilén.

oktober 20th, 2009

Stowe Boyd, really realtime disruptive media, and challenges for future journalists

Posted by Lotta Holmstrom

Stowe Boyd at the Really Realtime Disruptive Media conference

I am at the Really Realtime Disruptive Media conference, which is also streamed live at I’ve just listened to Stowe Boyd and would like to share some of it, though liveblogging is becoming more and more tricky when everyone’s got access to the event in real time. I think this development is good, since you have to contribute your own thoughts and ideas and not just echo back what is being said.

Anyway, Stowe did a good job summing up the shift from the web of pages to the web of flow. I’d like to focus on the journalistic aspects of what he said.
The basis is that we rely more on our network of peers than on traditional media, traditional search, traditional anything.
– It’s the hollowing out of established mass media as people move away from mass belonging, says Stowe Boyd. They start to reject the editorial voice of newspapers.
He brought up the live twittering of the plane crash in the Hudson river and the tweets from the Iranian demonstrations while CNN was broadcasting re-runs as two examples.

So how can media companies matter in this time/space? They need to take the step out there, to be where their (former) readers are. Stowe Boyd talks about web pages and even blogs as the ”dusty library shelves” of today. You go there but it’s not where you have your conversations. So journalists need to go to the streams where their writing is in fact discussed, they need to participate, to analyze what’s being said, and do what they’re good at – summarize, bring up the interesting stuff, and make it easier for people to find it themselves by linking to relevant hash tags etc.

By building credibility and making connections on Twitter and the better tools that will replace it you have direct access to people who can make your reporting better. The main thing is as always to listen.

oktober 12th, 2009

The Guardian to contract bloggers for local news

Posted by Lotta Holmstrom

While Swedish national papers have moved away from local news initiatives, as local advertising markets are not ready to support costly coverage, there are examples in other countries of how to build coverage by collaborating with local bloggers. The most recent comes from the Guardian, who are looking to contract bloggers in Leeds, Cardiff and Edinburgh. Media and technology reporter Mercedes Bunz reports:

”Guardian Local is a small-scale experimental approach to local newsgathering. We are focusing on three politically engaged cities and we expect to launch in early 2010,” said Emily Bell, the director of digital development at Guardian News & Media. Sarah Hartley, the Guardian local launch editor said: ”While researching developments at the grassroots of community journalism, I’ve been impressed by the range and depth of coverage from local websites and blogs. This experimental project reflects both the shifting nature of journalism and the reality on the ground.”

The focus is on local political decision making, and Bunz draws a parallell to the public subsidy NPR has received in the States, pondering if this might be a model for the UK too. Another option is funding from organizations like the Knight Foundation.

In Sweden we’ve seen several local newspapers/sites collaborating with bloggers for local and hyperlocal news (one recent example is Smålandsposten’s Mitt Lammhult), but the national papers seem less prone to. The largest daily Aftonbladet still has its locally contracted bloggers on the larger cities’ pages on Bloggportalen – for instance Norrköpingsbloggen on the Norrköping page – but with the loss of the local sections on I doubt they get much public or journalistic attention. A lot of them are no longer active.
At the same time there are cities and even whole regions who lack journalists covering them, reports Swedish journalists’ union’s paper Journalisten (unfortunately I can’t find the article available online).
It’s not a problem in itself if national media skip local coverage as long as there are local initiatives – by journalistic sites of bloggers with an interest in these issues. Where they’re lacking, though, there’s a danger that corruption spreads.

(via Jeff Jarvis)

Disclaimer: I am a former employee of

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augusti 22nd, 2009

Brand, link and communicate around your content, and you can set it free (SSWC)

Posted by Lotta Holmstrom

We are at Tjärö, a small island in the Blekinge archipelago, for a weekend camp for social media folks – Sweden Social Web Camp. The event is an unconference, with the participants setting the agenda and signing up to hold sessions.

At one of the opening sessions, gatered a group of journalists, bloggers and others to discuss the future of journalism. Starting out, they said ”let’s not discuss the economics, but rather how to make great journalism online”. Needless to say, the two are related, so the discussion drifted in that direction towards the end. Morris Packer, The Bonnier Group/, objected to the term ”good journalism”, and got the suggestion it be called ”costly journalism” instead: The stuff that traditional journalists do and which costs a lot of money.

– When we don’t have monopoly on information, how can we make use of the numerous resources out there?, asked Gustav Svensson of Sydsvenskan.
Leo Wallentin, a freelance journalist, replied: You have to brand your content, to have interconnecting links so people can find it, and to be present where your content is present.
I think that’s a neat summary for all media companies who are struggling to understand how making your content widely available around the web can be good for you. If you communicate around your content you will still be the source where people turn to for related issues.

Other topics in this session were the use of real time statistics when deciding what makes the top of the front page online, what should and could be called journalism, if honesty isn’t more important than absolute truth and whether a great journalistic handicraft still can sell.

Here’s the schedule for today’s sessions at SSWC:
Dagens schema för Sweden Social Web Camp

april 13th, 2009

Citizen Media Watch teaching at Fojo – Project Belarus

Posted by Gitta Wilen

Gitta at Fojo, Kalmar – Project Belarus

During Januari and Februari this year, I did some teaching at Fojo, the Institute for Further Education of Journalists. I talked about online journalism and how to make good SEO for an article, at the web journalist seminar for Belarusian journalists and students from the University of journalism in Minsk. Some weeks later I managed the web design seminar for Belarusian independent media.

When teaching at the Project Belarus I met journalists working under different economical and technical conditions. Independent media are more depending on Internet especially if their necessary ration of paper for printing the newspaper is drawn back – for some reason.

But since the broadband is not always that broad and the freedom of speech comes with a price, the online solution is not always an affordable option as it would be in Europe.

CMW teaching at Fojo, Kalmar – Project Belarus
Each course was five days long with a follow up, a couple of weeks later in Minsk/Vilnius. I managed the web design course, Jonas Söderström, inUse, is managing the other four.

Fojo is aiming for:

  • To build up a high quality of journalism characterized by professionalism, integrity and interaction with the audience.
  • To enhance the capacity of media to report on important national issues such as poverty alleviation, the fight against corruption, grassroots democracy and civil rights perspectives.
  • To promote openness and democracy of media trough improved capacity of Belarusian journalists.

On the Fojo web site you’ll also find an on line guide to Belarus.

Ola Henriksson,
Ola Henriksson at

I brought some of my material for the lectures on film. Made some clips in Stockholm, before going to Fojo in Kalmar. Have a look at Ola Henriksson, developement editor at talking about their SEO work. I am sorry, it is only in Swedish. But here’s a quick translation and summary:

Ola Henriksson has been working at for about ten years, as a web editor, news editor in chief and now as one of the two developement editors of the editorial office. He is project managing the technical needs, questions and projects for

During the second half of 2008 they started a SEO project. They had several reasons to do that. The traffic of visitor is important for the site. The site has 650 000–700 000 unique visitors per week. Newspapers have similar material. The competition is hard. Every paper is aming for being fast/first and they have pretty much the same news. It is necessary to attract new visitors to the site.

SEO is also important because readers are using Google and other search engines to find the information they want to read. There for it is important to use relevant key words, to be able to be at the top of the search result on Google.
– To get clicks you simply have to be at the top, at least at the first search page, Ola says.

When they started this project at, they put together a group of colleagues that looked in to this subject. They made a list containing 50 things that they had to carry through to be able to get more visitors from the search engine to the site.

A consultant agency helped to carry this through and to follow up on the results. The made few and small changes to increase the relevance for the search engines.

They did put this project through this autumn 2008. They have done several different things, some of them are: looking in to the in- and outgoing links, adding meta descriptions to the sections on the online newspaper, looking over the headers for the articles – there can be a huge difference between a journalistic header and a search engine friendly header.

They are not done with this project yet. There are still working with the search engine  optimization.

The journalists at are not forced to write a describing header, for the search engine, but that is something that they would like them to do.

They are also looking in to keywords. It is also making relevance for ranking at the search engines. The keywords will be put in together with the article as it is published. Ola is mentioning New York Times as an example. They are using keywords in the topics index.

– There are lots of things that can and should be done. We think it is important because the search engines are important becuase there are lots of in traffic from these kinds of sites. This project has increased the visitors traffic with ten percent, Ola Henriksson says.

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mars 14th, 2009

Twitter as news source, and the unthinkable

Posted by Lotta Holmstrom

Twitter is becoming the one stop place for relevant reading these days, especially since I’m way behind with my Google Reader feeds. Today’s most retweeted post, and a required read, must be Clay Shirky‘s long and insightful look at past media revolutions and the one we’re going through right now, Newspapers and Thinking the Unthinkable.
There’s also a thought-provoking follow-up from Cathy Davidson, asking:

So for the sake of argument, let’s reverse the question: is there something to be gained by the end of newspapers as we know them in this historical moment?

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mars 11th, 2009

Interesting times ahead at the tabloids in Sweden

Posted by Lotta Holmstrom

Today Thomas Mattsson was appointed editor-in-chief of Expressen, the 2nd largest tabloid/evening paper in Sweden. Great news, as Mattsson has made a name for himself being web2.0 friendly, listening to people and using social media to connect with his users/readers. Very exciting, and a very good choice.
Second great news is the response from the largest tabloid/evening paper Aftonbladet‘s editor-in-chief, Jan Helin. He immediately reached out a hand to Mattsson, suggesting a collaboration on the campaign to free Dawit Isaak, Swedish-Eritrean journalist imprisoned in Eritrea since 2001. Mattsson agreed to work together on this.

The two rivalling tabloids joining forces is interesting in itself, though it’s not the first time it’s happened. Campaigns in the past has made them join forces.
What’s really exciting is how this exchange took place, and where – on Twitter, where anyone could and did see and comment on the initiative. A lot of retweets tonight. Having two social/citizen media friendly editors in chief at the two main tabloids promises an interesting time ahead. Looking forward to seeing where this development will lead.

A piece of media history

Jan Helin on Twitter
Thomas Mattsson on Twitter

Update: More collaboration across publishing house borders, through Twitter – read this post from Publishing 2.0: Networked link journalism: A revolution quitely begins in Washington State

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mars 11th, 2009

Entrepreneurial journalism and the future roles of journalists

Posted by Lotta Holmstrom

I’m reading Ellyn Angelotti‘s summary of the discussions during the recent Journalism That Matters conference, wishing I had been there. It is written in an optimistic tone, and the focus is on journalistic entrepreneurship.

Several journalists said they wonder if their news organizations are still too dependent on their old business models to create innovative journalism. Chris Peck, editor of The Commercial Appeal in Memphis, Tenn., responded that if they feel that way, they should strike out on their own.

In a time when layoffs are plentyful – atleast in the States, but the economic crisis might mean we’ll have our share here in Sweden too – maybe this is the way to go for some of the people that find themselves outside of traditional media. The big media companies here in Sweden seem to be preparing for a model with fewer employees and more temporary hired workers, if Aftonbladet/Minimedia’s new temp agency is anything to go by. We’ve seen independent journalists starting blogs that has become successful enough to relaunch their careers, such as Niklas Svensson‘s (et al) Politikerbloggen, now part of TV4. And of course blogging is also an entry point into journalism for people without academic training but with a passion for their subject and the talent of writing interesting stuff.

One of my great sources of inspiration about citizen media and the future of journalism, Dan Gillmor, is now running the Knight Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship, another sign that independent journalistic innovators are needed in the future media landscape.
I’m certainly hoping recently laid off journalists can find the enthusiasm and inspiration to take this step. We need more journalists involved in the innovation online.

Well, back to Angelotti and the Journalism That Matters conference. She points to a set of interviews made by Jackie Hai, a student at the University of Massachusetts. She’s asked a number of the participants what they think is the role of the journalist in this new network of information and community of readers. It’s well worth checking out.

Also read Jackie’s blog post ”Journalists: It’s time to be the phoenix”. Good stuff.

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mars 9th, 2009

The BBC to educate the public in journalism

Posted by Lotta Holmstrom

Now everyone can take part of the online journalistic training and resources the BBC has available to its journalists. The BBC blog dot life announces a virtual college of journalism:

”One of the most important things that we need to think about and do is teach journalism to the next generation and to the new leaders within journalism,” said the BBC’s Kevin Marsh, at the DNA 2009 conferenceT in Brussels.

Every aspect of online training that is currently available to 7,500 BBC journalists will be open to the public.

I’ve read a number of posts lately about the education of the public into citizen journalists and educated readers. What do you think, is this the right way to go?

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