Monday, July 31, 2006

CNN Gives Permission To The People To Be Citizen Journalists

Poking around the media landscape today, I came across an announcement that CNN plans to boost citizen journalism on its site....
The cable news network on Tuesday plans to announce it has created a new program to let users send in digital audio and video from breaking news events in their region. Users can e-mail or upload these so-called "I-Reports" directly from CNN's site.

Yes, in the typical, paternalistic MSM way, CNN will "let" the citizens send in their "I-Reports." Considering CNN's already gone out of its way to increase jouranlistic stupidity with Glenn Beck, I guess they feel they don't have much left to lose by having a few of the citizenry post their disaster videos to make it look like it's being part of that whole "citizen journalism" thing.

That's not citizen journalism. That's just taking advantage of people's need to be part of the glitz-and-glamour of the MSM Machine.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Revered journalist and NPR correspondent Daniel Schorr gives his perspective on blogging and the Internet:
What is good about it (the Internet) is people will not be able to suppress the news because you can always have a blogger who gets the story out,” Schorr says.

“But what we have here is a medium in which there is no publisher, no editor, no anything. It's just you and a little machine and you can make history. I find that scary. Nobody should get into print or on the air without some kind of editor. I have an institutional belief that nobody can be above having a good editor.”

Wish he would have read the recent report from Pew about bloggers and blogging. Once again, someone from MSM is perpetuating stereotypes and talking in generalities about something he seems to know so little about. First-person accounts of tragic events--if that's what he means by the stuff that makes history, such as the tsunami blogs/photos or the London bombing photos--are different in scope than other types of blogs. The reason they often go out without editing is the urgency of the situation--and that they are first-person. In those cases, editing could amount to censoring of timely visual information.

Which brings up the point as to when an editor becomes a censor. Editing for creating a coherent, readable product that is balanaced and judicious is important. Editing to hold back information because of an agenda is another thing totally--which seems to be what's happening with a lot of the coverage of the Middle East. Is that editing or censoring? Is the end-product good journalism or propaganda?

Wonder how Schorr would answer those questions.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

How that cranky Media Guy almost made coffee come out my nose:

Did you catch the recent New York Times article about the rehabilitation of the word slut? Pulitzer Prize-winning D.C.-based Op-Ed columnist Maureen Dowd did. She wrote a whole column about it and helpfully rounded things out by doing some original reporting. Specifically, she interviewed her "23-year-old assistant, Ashley" "my classy 26-year-old girlfriend," "one 24-year-old Washington reporter" and "one 25-year-old writer in D.C." Thanks for reaching out, Mo.

You know, I was going to write a column this week that would consist of my interviewing my boyfriend, my cats and my toaster-oven about what they thought of Maureen Dowd's Times piece about a Times piece -- but instead I'm turning it into a screenplay for a Lifetime miniseries.

bwahahahahaha! (and the rest of the article's pretty funny too.)

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Outing Integrity Corporation

What is the Integrity Corporation and why do their bots keep crawling my blog?

close to 50% of the hits to this blog today have been from Integrity Corporation. This usually indicates an aggressive bot that is scraping my blog content.

I have tried to speak with Integrity Corporation about their bots, but no one will even acknowledge that this is happeneing.

How do I know? I check my stats. They are there under "domain" as the source of the hit. When I check futher, the ISP is Peer 1 Network, located in San Antonio, TX. The computer they are using is the same one (although I only have a partial number.)

Who are these people? Why are their bots constantly crawling my blog?

I want an answer.

Update: Yes, I got an answer. Not from Identity Corp., but from a friend who knows about these sorts of things. He says I shouldn't be bothered about it, but I still am....strangely, this company's bots haven't been around lately.

Are Bloggers Journalists? Pew Sez Most Think Not

Here's a giant news flash for *some* journalists (yes, you know who you are) out there who've had their knickers in a bunch about the profession of journalism being molested and bastardized by "those bloggers": Pew discovers that most bloggers(64%)don't think of themselves as journalists.

Yes, that's right: 64 percent of folks who blog, who were surveyed by Pew between July '05 and Feb '06, don't believe themselves to be journalists.

Holy mother of pearl! What a (well-duh!) revelation!

So, all you former debate squad geeks can simply get over it now:
About 77 percent of blog authors, or "bloggers," said they post to express themselves creatively rather to get noticed or paid, according to the report, released by the Pew Internet & American Life Project. About 34 percent of bloggers feel what they do is journalism--so those among you who really care about journalism can start having real conversations with this group of folks that could be called "citizen journalists." Most--I'd hazard a guess from knowing some of them-- are probably doing some very decent citizen journalism--with a method and some fact-checking and editing. Those are the folks journalists should befriend and be involved with--not criticize and deride--because most of them have very good reasons for what they are doing. They can articulate exactly why they are doing "citizen journalism" and I'm sure they'd be glad to share their reasons with you.

Oddly 8% of Internet users write blogs, while 39% read them. Yes, people are, for the most part, lurkers rather than joiners. But that's okay. There are always more book readers than book writers.

And there are always more voyeurs than participants.

Blogging then, for most of The People, is about expression, being creative, and conversation. It is only about journalism when the blogger decides it should be--and only about a third have made that decision.

Why some journalists and ivory-tower types have, over the years, had trouble getting with the facts that Pew confirms (and I've known since I started blogging) is simply that they do not read or listen to "The People" that they always flap their gums about. Do they want the world to bend to their will because of some over-inflated sense of self-importance? IMHO, a good remedy would be to stop talking among themselves, grow backbones, and start talking to The People. The People are not their servants nor subjects whose will needs to bend to their theories. The People--or, more appropriately in this case,The Users--know what they are doing, why they do it, and will be very glad to talk about it.

As far as I'm concerned, Pew's study confirms what I have been saying all along about my own blogging and the blogging of many of The People I know. Further, Pew confirms what I've always said about my personal blog: that it is on-going memoir and conversation, not journalism. What I do here on this blog is commentary and could, under certain circumstances, be a form of citizen journalism because of its content. But, neither blog is the journalism that I do for Corante or the journalism I've done for other publications. It is by directing my writing on a certain subject, and by having that writing go thru an editorial process,my accepting the process, and that I made money from it, that I can call myself a journalist.

The People know what they are doing, and why they are doing it. The People don't have a problem with journalism being journalism, and The People don't have a problem with blogging being blogging. The People know what blogging is and what journalism is, and know that the preponderance of what they are doing is not journalism. The People who want their blogging to be journalism, more than likely, know what they are doing--otherwise they wouldn't answer affirmatively to the question about their blogs being journalism.

I know the debates aren't over, and I'm sure there will be so many who will want to debate Pew's findings. But if I had the money, I'd send the folks at Pew a huge basket of gourmet muffins just to thank them for throwing down this wonderful gauntlet and sticking it to all those folks who so want to use blogging (and bloggers) to support their own personally-held ideologies and agendas.

The People have spoken. Now, all You need to do is listen.

Update From one of the Pew researchers: "Much of the public and press attention to bloggers has focused on the small number of high-traffic, A-list bloggers. . . By asking a wide range of bloggers what they do and why they do it, we have found a different kind of story about the power of the internet to encourage creativity and community among all kinds of internet users."

Also: 54% of bloggers say that they have never published their writing or media creations anywhere else; 44% say they have published elsewhere.

yes, we like to write!

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Monday, July 17, 2006

Me and Some of My Closest Blog-Ladyfriends are featured in an article on Mass women bloggers for the Boston Globe. A pic of me is here on Maura Welch's blog. cool!
Fave blogger Ron Brynaert has briefly re-christened his blog Why Ann Coulter's Godless Book Should Be Pulled while he focuses on convincing us why the aforementioned should be acted on accordingly. I hear ya, Ron!

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Good News/Bad News

First the good news:

Some of you may know that, deep down, my greatest love is academic research related to media and religion. I've got the opportunity to work on three different projects connected with this True Love of my life....

The first two involve the interplay between religion and mass media--one project on the use of imagery by various Protestant denominations. The second is on the incursion of the KKK in Worcester, Mass in the 1920's.

Apparently, the prior research I've done on both topics is needed somewhere. The projects will be "citizen journalism"--but only in the sense that they are self-published to the web.

Why? Because most publications won't touch the subjects no matter how well-researched they might be. They are "hot button" projects, not very Politically Correct--but, in our current social climate, they are needed. Even if the mainstream is too wussy or only wants research like this from approved academic institutions.

The third is a project with a broadcast journalist, so it's a different kind of journalism--but journalism. I'm the researcher--because there's stuff that, apparently, I'm an expert on...

I'm also working on an opportunity to do some lecturing in communications...because, oddly, I've built something of a career out of blogging (as nascent as it may be)

So, over the next month or so, *this* blog will be going dark...

I'll still be writing for the Corante Media Hub (I need to put *some* food on the table--besides, I really like that job! first one I've liked in years)...

I am also contributing to Poynter OnLine's E-Media TidBits column. This is a wonderful priviledge, and I need the time to concentrate to write appropriately for Poynter...

And I'm still blogging at my girly blog--life doesn't stop happeneing and the writing over there is some of the best un-professionally published stuff I've ever written.

So what if it isn't hard-hitting and topical all the time. It's great writing. You'll like it. Heck, I may even blog about networked journalism and the people formerly known as the audience...but it'll be different.

I could care less about my Technorati Rank, too. What's it going to get me at this point compared to a well-researched piece of scholarship on something nobody knows a darned thing about? There's something terribly satisfying about watching people's faces light up when you tell them some piece of history they never knew.

I've contacted the library at my alma mater and will be breaking out the 3x5's again (yes, I have a laptop, but old habits die hard.) I'm looking forward to days in "the dungeon" reading copious copies of Christianity Today, The Christian Century, and Film Quarterly.

Honestly, that's my idea of a grand summer vacation...

and if you're going, I'll see you at BlogHer!

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Media Giraffe: A Final Note

I've been bopping around the blogosphere over the past couple of days, and I knew what I said at the closing wouldn't be heard quite the way I meant it (must learn to sync mouth and brain)...

When I said that I only saw "people' in the room, I meant that there was no difference between the people and the journalists who were there...there was no us-them. We were all People.

My frustration was with the great number who had left after the Wednesday dinner, who were wringing their hands over the '04 election, or who left by Thursday lunch.

That was the sad thing. Many of them didn't get to meet many of us who were in the room.

When professionals--be they doctors, dentists, lawyers, journalists--never bother to talk with the people, how can they understand what the people are doing?

Too few are having experiences like John Donley's or Teresa Hannifin's (at Boston Globe) or are conducting the great experiments that go on at few journo schools are doing the cool things that Paul Grabowitz talked about. And SPJ is really priviledged to have a leader like Dave Carlson.

Am I expecting too much? Is it that so much of this is still in its infancy? Maybe that's what my concerns are--maybe my concerns are that things *are* in their infancy and everyone has to be *very* careful. We can't afford to be wringing our hands over the past, walking away, turning our backs. We need to be in the same room, talking with one another, not about one another....

then again, maybe that's another conference. Maybe this was only the beginning...

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Monday, July 03, 2006

Media Giraffe: Learning What's Next (and what's not)

I keep thinking about how there has been much discussion about disruptive technologies

It's not necessarily the technologies that are disruptive as much as it is how people use them.

People created craigslist and eBay and People create blogs. People use the medium of the Internet to do things they never thought could happen. Who knew we could get out there and have conversations with people all over the world without incurring huge telephone bills??

I am struck, though, how *some* journalists do not seem to understand that blogs are conversations. With the exception of a handful of big bloggers, most blogging is conversation between people. The internet is like a town square and these are our little soap boxes.

We really *do* have the right to have conversation--whether we call all those conversations journalism...well, that's for another (legal) debate.

Yesterday, the Media Giraffe Project Summitt
concluded. Today, I'm still dehydrated and burnt-out. Can't ever seem to get enough water at these things. There was a lot of info to process, a lot of ideas and stuff going around that can't be explained post-conference

We were a small group at the end--people and journalists. We had our own takes on what went on, what happened in the four days. Many agreed that there was a lot of self-congratulatory stuff on the first days, and that at times there seemed to be two conferences (one for journalists, one for people) going on at the same time. Someone pointed out (and I forget who) that all of us in the room constituted a small group of people who are concerned about what's happening and want to do something about it (I would include some of those who had to leave before then end, too.)

Ultimately, my take is this: There are lots of problems in big newspapers that citizen efforts alone cannot fix. There are some good people who are aware of those problems (corporate ownership being a very big one) and who would like to see changes. What shape those changes will take, however, still need to be hashed out.

But pandering to the citizenry with "free blogs" and "get your voice heard!" stuff isn't going to help. If anything, in less-urban regions, might distract people from the real shenanigans that are going on in town governments--let alone keep them ignorant of what's going on nationally.

The people are not "zombies"--we are out here having conversations about all sorts of topics, and my sense is that papers want to control and co-opt those conversations by putting them under their umbrella. There's something about that idea that stinks a bit. I don't mind being listed on the local site, but I don't think I could write for them. I like writing for Corante because what I write about has a certain focus.

And I believe that local areas with only one newspaper need citizen efforts to be independent. Paul Bass of the New Haven Independent made that well as there being a need for independent investigative citizen journalism (via blog) on ePluribus Media (esp. the projects done by Ilona Meagher and Paul Thomas) and independent citizen journalism on tough topics like religious liberty being done at Talk to Action (Fred Clarkson and Bruce Wilson are men after my own heart! so great to find people who are local who share the same esoteric passionate interest)

Which leads me to what was, for me anyway, the most important part of the Summitt: meeting more local bloggers and citizen journalists (and where I learned that the small-town, independent paper journalist is just as much a "citizen" as anyone who works online.) There were so many that I can't even remember all their names. As Lisa Williams and I talked about, we need to have a place where we can list where we all are, what we do, and who we are. We need to be able to stay in touch with and support one another. Finding one another is the hardest thing. Once we do that, maintaining the connections won't be all that hard.

The citizen journalists and bloggers in New England need to be organized--and we need to do it ourselves. Our independence is more important than anything we might do to save the monolithic newspapers in most of our geographic areas.

Which leads me to those monolithic papers and big media journalism in general: stop trying to co-opt citizen journalism. There are bigger problems--corporate ownership, crappy content and sagging revenues--that can't be fixed by involving the citizenry in your efforts. If you want to continue to turn out a "professional" product, don't look to independents. Let independents do what they want to do--it is their right. All that can come out of absorbing independents--on the local scene esp.--is a wal-mart style journalism replete with overworked, underpaid and barely qualified journalists who will move on when they get a better opportunity (I have it on good information that this is already happening in many small towns.) In other words: take an inventory (or get someone to help you do it)of your own management and marketing decision-making, look at what's going wrong on the inside and fix the problems that have been building since the push for corporate ownership. Stop looking to the people to solve a series of complicated problems that they had not part in creating.

All in all, though, the Summitt was very successful. It got a bunch of us who are local, who may never have met otherwise, to finally meet face to face. It got some journalism professionals talk among themselves in a different way (Chris Peck and Steve Sila shephered that effort and stuck it out till the very end) and even if we're not on the same page or totally seeing eye to eye, more progress was made here than might have been made at other conferences...

Even if we couldn't break the Plexiglas Ceiling of journalism's upper some ways, that can't be expected. They are who they are, and the only way things will change is from the bottom up....but not by making the "bottom up" efforts part of the bottom line. That's just not our job.

Update: here's a great follow-up from Ilona (and great comment from Cho) at ePluribus Media.

Update: John Burke's 6/29 post at Editor's Weblog quotes Helen Thomas:“Anyone with a laptop thinks they’re a journalist.” This is false. Anyone with a laptop now has a voice. Not all voices are journalism, nor do they purport to be. And all those voices don't need permission from the Establishment to have conversation. and Jeff Jarvis:“Let’s not make this another bloggers vs. journalist conference, not about competition, us vs. them… That debate is over... We should be talking about opportunities, success stories, invention, creativity...." we talked about all that at the citizen journalism track. Where were you, Jeff?

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Saturday, July 01, 2006

Embarassing conference moment #238 My cards have a typo. The addy for this blog is wrong and it ends up directing people somewhere else. Good thing I have some old cards with the right addy.