Tag Archives: citizen journalism

The Hypocrisy of CNN. Seriously.

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Oh this is classic! CNN mocks all-things Occupy Wall Street, as a movement. But with its other hand doesn’t hesitate to solicit the movement’s media – without paying for it! Via iReport.

I hope no one’s stupid enough to give away their media to a corporate hater. At least charge ’em for it. Jeez.

Note the insertion of the iReport ads soliciting free media stuck in here.

Practice safe media, kiddies!

The Great Atlanta Media Leap Forward

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We’ve got a lot of, er, *transitioning* ahead of us in Atlanta. We can read between the lines, here in this greatest of Southern cities, and understand what the underlying code is there. And yeah, if we weren’t so darn cowardly about those matters we could have an open conversation about the City of Atlanta *transitioning*, but I don’t think we’re quite ready for that yet.

Anyways… that’s off-topic, as what I’d like to point-out today is the great effort by 11AliveNews, or what we used to just call WXIA, to live-stream the critical Atlanta Public Schools (APS) board meeting for the community yesterday, January 24, 2011. The meeting whereby board members were first chastised by an outside accreditation group, not for the elephant that remains in the room (CRCT cheating), but for *infighting* issues among board members.

Whatever. The board was soundly scolded, given a deadline and loads of impenetrable rules to waste a lot of meeting time trying to follow. Then some local politicians got up to say their, rather futile, piece. Get their crucial face-time in.

And then the board did what we all knew they were going to have to do to move their game piece forward – voted to adopt the SACS recommendations to fend-off loss of accreditation.

Chris Sweigart, the all-things-online dude at WXIA, a Gannett station, grabbed his laptop and treated the Atlanta (and beyond) online community to open air and sunshine – via a live-stream of the APS board meeting. So the stream suffered from low audio and a dubious 3G connection. Nonetheless it let us play along at home. Kinda like we were the first village to have a scratchy broadcast from a new, magical device. And everyone gathered around to listen carefully to an important  live event.

The thing about Internet live-streaming is that pretty much anyone can do it. You need an Internet connection and a smart phone with the right (free) app. That’s it. And you’re off and running. Politicians could do it. PTA moms could do it. Third graders could do it. Community agitators could do it. Facebook Group enthusiasts could do it. But people don’t do it as much as we should.

And of course our various interest groups and stakeholders are so laughably hell-bent on public lip-flapping and having their turn at a podium and getting their egos stroked that they rarely, if ever, take time to understand that technology has enabled a world of blazingly bright sunshine on our public and governmental and community proceedings and processes.

Reporters are so deep in not missing a word as they type or write down the proceedings they seem blissfully unaware, in a press box, of technological advances that most third graders could set-up and distribute on a playground social network. Who knows where their media bosses are in all these new technologies. (I don’t want to even get an answer to that, given that I still hear horror stories of executives who require an entire secretarial pool simply to print out their own damn emails.)

The fact of the matter is that the community can watch and listen live, to whatever, and come to their own understandings and conclusions. When we do, we hardly need to have what we’ve already been subjected to parroted back to us in all the usual, traditional media ways. For instance, in that increasingly obsolete TUNE-IN WAY LATER IN THE DAY!, tease-oriented TV/radio media environment. Been there; done that. Why tune-in later?!

It’s not that it’s not well parroted back later at some other point in time. It’s just that waking-up to, for example, an excellent WABE report on an APS board meeting you paid careful attention to as it played-out, comprehensively in real time, becomes untimely and somewhat redundant.

Again, I can’t stress enough how what I point out is hardly a condemnation of quality journalism capability. WABE has that in spades when it comes to covering APS matters. Yet to ignore and not even begin to put one’s quality journalistic efforts and deep experience more to the matter of real time, live eventing, and how technology is evolving there, is ignoring the media elephant in the room – the real time, technological capability of the citizen. Or let’s call it *the audience* – that elusive entity always being chased after, especially in memos from suits in Dunwoody-based offices.

Perhaps it is there (live-streams, not Dunwoody) where more of our very capable journalism efforts should be directed. For example, Chris Sweigart had a hard time keeping his live-stream going and answering the many questions his audience (me) had regarding the who, what, why and where of what was playing-out on our laptops back at the coffee shop or airport or Dubai for that matter.

Live-streaming always has some techno glitch that needs attention. All the while, editorial attentions must be paid too. That’s where good journalism comes into play. Citizens may have a smart phone, a Ustream.tv app and a wi-fi connection, but they may not have the journalism experience to go along with their gee-wiz techno toys. It thus becomes a matter of improved multitasking.

The Atlanta media outlet that finds a way to combine more local, community-based, comprehensive live-streams with some ace journalism is the one that can give that precious, all-important, techno-advanced *audience* what they really really want. And that news outlet will take a great leap forward for Atlanta pan-media in the process. I know who I’m keeping my eye on.

I Went To An Atlanta Local News Station And All I Got Was This Flip Cam

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In all fairness, I also got a tee shirt when I went to the CBS46 “Blogger Summit.” And a nice highlighter pen thingee in the goodie bag, in addition to the Flip cams CBS6 news director Steve Schwaid and co. handed out to the 25 or so assembled Atlanta blogerati who filled up an empty studio with pizza and some lively chatter about community, social networks, and what bloggers can and cannot add to the broadcasting milieu on July 20, 2009.

Come to think about it, CBS46, or WGCL, did a remarkable thing this evening – they invited Atlanta bloggers and social media utilizers from the metro area into their station to talk about, er, stuff. I can’t say this has ever happened before in Atlanta – the MSM reaching out in such a way, other than that one ill-fated meeting at WSB-TV a couple of years ago, but that meeting was so pointless and futile it’s not really worth mentioning so I’ll leave it at “ill-fated.”

I admire their chutzpah at WGCL if nothing else. It may be a case of nothing left to lose so why not go for broke? But to widen the net towards taking seriously Atlanta’s numerous community content providers seems like a reasonable, if not likely highly lucrative, approach.

The chit chat at CBS46 was brisk and spicy, as was the A-listing of some of Atlanta’s longtime, well-regarded bloggers who showed. Spotted in the crowd were Blog For Democracy’s co-founders Catherine Smith and Melanie Goux, Peach Pundit’s Buzz Brockway, Dan Greenfield of BernaiseSource, Amani Channel of My Urban Report, Rusty Tanton of Georgia Podcast Network, Tessa Horehled of Drive A Faster Car, and Doug Richards of Live Apartment Fire.

(Oddly enough, as CBS46 isn’t a Cox Plantation property, a couple of reporter/bloggers from the Cox Plantation Big House showed too, but I’m not sure why they were there as they never said a word. Go figure. Your guess is as good as mine.)

CBS46 wasn’t too coy about why they wanted us bloggers and SM users there. They wanted us bloggers and citizen journalists and writers and marketeers and promoters there to ask us to provide content. For free. To them. (Thus the handing out of the Flip cams.)

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And that’s ok. I didn’t think we were invited in to be given paying jobs as journalists and anointed Queens and Kings of the ATL. CBS46 wants to try new things. I assume they need to try new things. They’re willing to experiment, in a rather large way, with citizen journalism and the news content they broadcast. My hat’s off to anyone willing to experiment with change in a traditional medium and not be crystal clear as to what, or even where, the road ahead is going to be. (That approach having been my personal MO for the last couple of years or so.)

But I gotta tell you, with so many places to give our content away for free, other than our own blogs, at some point I’m going to get hyper-picky. No one’s offering grownup money, so until they do we’ve got to be happy with a tee shirt, free pizza,  and an occasional guest flash of our homemade news-style content wherever we can get it.

I don’t know if this is the formula for changing the world, and somehow I doubt it is. But in the Atlanta market at least it is a fresh approach and a start to messing around with the status quo of local news broadcasting as we’ve historically known it.  (White anchor, black anchor, traffic chopper, and a whole lotta crime scene tape.) And that’s got to be a good thing.

So is the nifty Flip cam handed out by CBS46. I’ve been wanting one of those puppies for a while now. I got mine home and pointed it at the dog. She didn’t seem to mind:

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Welcome To New Media Slavery

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Don’t get me wrong. I’m a fan of citizen journalism and The Huffington Post and The Huffington Post’s citizen journalism project, OffTheBus. I’m a user and a cheerleader and a content creator for plenty of time-consuming, life-sucking, rather tiring citizen journalism initiatives. I won’t bore you with the details or the self-congratulatory remarks. You can read about them here. Or here.

But Arianna Huffington and Jay Rosen, bless their visionary hearts, are now, or soon will be, accepting awards for OffTheBus right and left (see Arianna’s thank-you letter to her OffTheBus contributors at the jump or here); however, OffTheBus is a grossly flawed business model… because it doesn’t pay the contributors.

Thus, I sure hope no one is considering adopting such a model as a business. Not seriously at least. As something else maybe, but not as a viable business model.

Creating cool, headline-grabbing platforms to harvest the collective mindset is not new media; it is new media slavery. And I for one will not continue to give away my content or my services for free.  I’ll go further to say that any media outlet thinking they’re going to cash-in by soliciting totally free journo-content from Joe Public will be gravely and financially disappointed. (Hear that iReport?)

The increasingly techno-sophisticated masses will soon get very restless for cash for their labors. The people who give enough of a shit to actually pick-up a camera and go out and commit citizen journalism give enough of a shit to soon become pro’sumer grade in their work. Then pro even. Better plan to pay ’em. Lest you’ll be stuck with freebie, amateur crap that an increasingly media-sophisticated public will soon become very restless with – and reject.

AllVoices, another citizen journalism platform, does pay their contributors. Now which would YOU choose?

Read the rest of this entry

No, Thank YOU HuffPost’s Off The Bus

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Amanda Michel, Den Mother of the Huffington Post’s 2008 presidential election, groundbreaking citizen journalism project, Off The Bus, takes a moment to thank their contributors here.

I thus took a comment moment to thank Off The Bus for their media vision and leadership. It was an honor and a thrill to have been part of the 2007-2008 political process via Off The Bus. My comment back to Amanda and John and the other wonderful OTB editors is re-pasted here:

Thank you Amanda and John, etc. so much for giving me the opportunity to participate in the political journalism process in innovative and exciting ways that were not open to me elsewhere. Being an OTB contributor has renewed my passion for journalism, taught me new skills, returned me to my MSM roots while allowing me to try new things, and provided a wealth of ideas and concepts I will take with me and share with many as I grow my small media business locally.

It’s been an honor and a pleasure. I like to think I played a small part in these historic media times. OTB made that possible, and inspired me to look for any way I could to get involved in the new political media going on around me over the last year or so.

Plus, doing totally indie, one-woman video packages was just a whole lot of fun! You should see how I can unfold my tripod now with a few flicks of the wrist. Even an old NABET camera-dude would be impressed. Well maybe…

All the best as we all move forward.

Managing The Media

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In the Now Herding Cats Department… while I find it amusing that there are people out there who feel media+The Internets are somehow, someway at all “manageable,” I like, and thus will evangelize, about two new tools that help control spin and lies and gross fabrications in media. Both tools are seeking crowd-sourced, computated journalism goals.

One is being hatched here in Atlanta out of Georgia Tech and is designed to flesh-out what we see/hear online via video. That’s Videolyzer. The other is SpinSpotter.com, spawned from the brains of a liberal and a conservative working together. (And they say it can’t be done. Hmph.)

From the NYTimes on SpinSpotter.com:

Any attempt to judge news articles could rely on experts, a broad audience of readers or a set of formulas. SpinSpotter combines all three, but for now the formulas are still being adjusted, the audience is not yet big enough, and it remains to be seen how unbiased or effective the experts are. SpinSpotter grew out of a longstanding obsession of Todd Herman, a conservative former talk-radio host who is the company’s chief product officer. “I thought of this 10 years ago,” he said. “The things I’d see in mainstream media drove me crazy.”

The chief executive officer, John Atcheson, is politically liberal, and he and Mr. Herman say they tend to balance each other out. “We don’t delude ourselves into thinking we’re going to eliminate spin, and that’s not even our objective,” said Mr. Atcheson, who has been an executive of several technology companies. “We just want it to be transparent, above the surface.”

Read full article about SpinSpotter.com here. Videolyzer is here.

YouTube and PBS Team Up For… Video Your Vote

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New Citizen Journalism Platform – Allvoices

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You’re in the New Journalism Army now with Allvoices! A citizen journalism platform I, gasp, have yet to submit content for, but I’m sure I eventually will. Have you? Seems a little “globally” for my typically southern-fried focus, but should anything ever happen around this neck of the woods…

Allvoices has a better interface than iReport. You can see that right off the bat. But unlike iReport, there’s no lure of getting your stuff on a CNN global property, either broadcast or, for instance, the Politics page… as has happened to me on occasion. See circled headline I wrote myself on screen shot below. (If you can’t make it out, it reads “The South Is In Play”:

However, Allvoices does promise cold hard cash! And who doesn’t love that? Only thing is, you have to garner about a zillion views to your CJ product to start raking in the dough.

Best advice I can offer if you’re looking to spin the CJ wheel o fortune? Have your cam(s) always at the ready. You’re a soldier in the New Journalism Army now, kiddo. I’ll let CNN’s Major Generalissimo Paul Ferguson rap to you about the hard reality dope: you really gotta be the only cam on the scene. In America at least.

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OffTheBus In New York Times. Again.

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Everyone’s fave citizen journalism political project (Mine included. Heck, I might like OTB even more than that other political project I contribute to. You know, the red one colored peach that smells like a toxic waste dump…) Queen Arianna’s OffTheBus at HuffPo is getting some serious MSM attention… AND contributors by the thousands. From the NYT, 7-23:

OffTheBus.net, the online citizen-journalist arm of the Huffington Post, celebrates its one-year anniversary this month.

Of all the new political, non-candidate sites to spring up during the last year, OTB is now probably the biggest, with 7,500 citizen correspondents. Through its growing pains, it continues to develop the technological and organizational know-how to become a force in journalism even as it challenges the standard notions of traditional journalism.

We have been charting the site’s progress throughout the campaign, with a report in October about its start-up and an interview in April with Mayhill Fowler, the correspondent who gained notoriety after reporting Senator Barack Obama’s “bitter” comments from a closed fund-raiser.

The site has evolved in several different ways. Perhaps most strikingly, OTB’s total of 7,500 citizen correspondents is up from 300 a year ago. Arianna Huffington, who helped found OTB, attributes the dramatic rise to the buzz created by Ms. Fowler’s two big scoops, first the Obama comments, then in early June when Bill Clinton lashed out at a Vanity Fair writer.

The scoops created news and also prompted intense self-reflection among traditional journalists (it’s all about us!). Had Ms. Fowler successfully pushed the envelope for campaign reporting? Or had she so fractured the rules that she set journalism back? Either way, she has become a rainmaker for OTB, the modern-day equivalent of Woodward and Bernstein inspiring hundreds of young cubs to become investigative journalists.

“The numbers started going up with Mayhill, then they accelerated,” Ms. Huffington said. “She became the poster child for ordinary citizens being able to impact the campaign.”

Full story here. My OTB video contributions/work here. Get fired up!!! Contribute yourself to OTB!!!!

It’s The Citizen, Stupid

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Jeez Louise! With all the MSM journalists sobbing in their seats about the demise of journalism (as they know it) at last night’s Atlanta Press Club/Society of Professional Journalists awards, and the Georgia Gang scratching their receding hairlines over how to make money online, since it’s obvious (even to them) that journalism is headed online, you’d think these j-folk types were dumb and dumber.

In reality, these are very smart people. Only thing is, most of ‘em aren’t terribly entrepreneurial or techno-creative. (HINT: things online are driven by innovative technology and compelling journalistic content.)

So, let’s say the mutual point of agreement is that news and journalism are moving primarily online. Thus, you’d think that would be an environ you’d need to be hyper-aware of, right? And participating in by all means. Not diddling around on the bureaucratic cluster-f**k that is Georgia public TV, but I digress… Read the rest of this entry

Citizen Journalist for Off The Bus Broke Big Campaign News

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Mayhill Fowler, a regular contributor to the Huffington Post’s Off The Bus citizen journalism project, broke some big-time news over the course of the Presidential primary season. From today’s LATimes:

Tim Russert, Katie Couric or Larry King eventually may deliver telling blows of their own, but score Round 1 in the contest to extract the most provocative presidential campaign quotes to . . . Mayhill Fowler?

The 61-year-old self-described “failed writer” and amateur Web journalist helped create two of the most unexpected moments in the 2008 election — most recently on Monday, when she recorded former President Clinton’s fiery denunciation (“slimy,” “dishonest”) of Vanity Fair writer Todd Purdum.

That scoop came six weeks after Fowler rocked the Democratic race for president by reporting (from a “closed press” fundraiser in San Francisco) Barack Obama’s now infamous discussion of “bitter” small-town Americans who “cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them.”

Full story here. Local video contributors to the Off The Bus project include Shelby Highsmith and me.

Preach The CJ Gospel, Brother Amani

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Alert Media Again! Channel 2 Discovers Interwebs Are Interactive!

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Bless their pitiful, clueless little hearts. Surely they can hear the sound of my snickering alone down there at Death Star 2 (WSB-TV). Wonder when they’ll figure out their viewership is too retarded to read this? Let alone operate a camera or make an edit.

But don’t blame the passive, dumbed-down, fat slob viewer. It’s not all their fault entirely, no matter what a Libertarian might harangue you with.

The local news base, typically known as the “viewer,” has been fed a brain-numbing diet of roadkill and ghetto crimes for so many years now, don’t panic if their deadly passive viewership, historically un-inspired to action by the ridiculous nature and format of most local news coverage they’ve been dealt in life, does not begin to embrace citizen journalism overnight.

They first must begin a long, tedious media recovery process… returning carefully to the light of engaging and engaged media in increments… slowly, slowly, slowly.