Citizen Journalism

We Just Have To Go Do The Work

Nicholas Lemann, in a story on blogging and citizen journalism in the August 7 issue of The New Yorker: [N]ew media in their fresh youth [produce] a distinctive, hot-tempered rhetorical style. …transformative in their capabilities…a mass medium with a short lead time — cheap…and easily accessible to people of all classes and political inclinations. And […] » about 400 words

Richard Sambrook Talks Citizen Journalism

I’m not sure what to think of Richard Sambrook appearing to struggle to find a place for traditional journalism in the age of the internet, but the story’s worth a read.

David Weinberger […] talked about the crisis in US journalism with failing trust in the big news organisations. He pointed out that Google now provided a news service with just an algorithm where there used to be a newsroom of dozens of people — and suggested algorithms were probably more reliable than journalists anyway! So if information is commodotised, and the public can tell their own stories, what’s the role for the journalist? I came up with three things — verification (testing rumour and clearing fog), explanation (context and background) and analysis (a Google search won’t provide judgement). And journalists still have the resources to go places and uncover things that might otherwise remain hidden. Citizens can do all of those things, but not consistently, and with even less accountability than the media.

Political Blogging Protected By FEC

Way back near the end of 2005, Lot 49 reported that the Federal Election Commission had basically ruled that bloggers are journalists:

The Federal Election Commission today issued an advisory opinion that finds the Fired Up network of blogs qualifies for the “press exemption” to federal campaign finance laws. The press exemption, as defined by Congress, is meant to assure “the unfettered right of the newspapers, TV networks, and other media to cover and comment on political campaigns.” The full ruling is available at the FEC site. A noteworthy passage: “…an entity otherwise eligible for the press exception would not lose its eligibility merely because of a lack of objectivity…” (emphasis added)

So, yeah, it’s double-edged, I mean that last line is basically the Fox News Channel exemption, but it also gives those bloggers who consider themselves citizen journalists a leg to stand on.

And the folks in that camp should be happy to have the Electronic Frontier Foundation‘s help. As Donna Wentworth says, Bloggers: You Have a Right to Remain Vocal.

What Bloggers Need To Know About Cahill v. Doe

Wendy Seltzer alerts us to the Delaware Supreme Court’s ruling last week in Cahill v. Doe, a case that tested our rights to anonymity online, as well as the standard for judging defamation.

As it turns out, the court decided against the plaintiff, a city councilman, and protected the identity of “Proud Citizen,” who the councilman accused of posting defamatory remarks in an online forum. Further, it also decided that the context of the remarks “a chatroom filled with invective and personal opinion” are “not a source of facts or data upon which a reasonable person would rely.”

In short, as Seltzer points out, the ruling hold readers responsible for seeing materials in the context they’re presented in:

The standard empowers a wide range of bloggers’ speech. Because readers can use context to help them differentiate opinions from statements of fact, bloggers are freer to publish their choice of opinionated gossip or citizen journalism. And thanks to courts like Cahill and Dendrite, they can do so using pseudonyms or their real names.