Saturday, 10 October 2009

What is the Future of Citizen Journalism?

October 10th is not only the birthday of my twins, but also the third birthday of There is no news uploaded from wikimu (except for the picture's column which is not an article). I've seen for almost three years. One basic thing that made it appealing for citizens and journalists to read it is actually because it is not in a form of "real journalism". Contributors use their own language (sometimes they can make a linguist frowned), minimal citizens are citizens who are trying to share their thoughts. It is just like a community blog, yet they are building a community from the cyber world. We get connected through exchanged of "news" in a certain corner of the cyber world.

Professional journalists were often commented that most of wikimu's contributors are submitting opinions. Why not? Citizen would like to share their opinions too. I've read a blog post (posted by Steve Boriss here) titled "Citizen Journalism is Dead, Expert Journalism is the Future" He said:

The problem with Citizen Journalism is that it tries to force news back to what it was. Actually, worse than it was. It takes the same stale, one-size-fits-all, center-left, authoritative-tone news model that news consumers are rejecting, then adds large quantities of material from unpaid amateurs who have no particular expertise in reporting, editing, writing, or their topic. It also unrealistically expects people who are not “losers” to do this work for free (a particularly odd expectation coming from your typical minimum-wage-supporting journalist). Citizen Journalism seems to serve the wishful-thinking needs of job-fearing journalists, but not the real needs of typical news consumers who would just as soon read quality material without being asked to help.

The model that will work — that will make news better, not worse — is one that combines the talents of topic experts throughout the web with those who have a knack for aggregating and editing their material to satisfy an audience. While Citizen Journalism has had no successes, this model has. Dan Rather was taken down by a typewriter font expert who knew a forgery when he saw it. Editors like those at know how to pick stories that energize their audiences. Citizens will be customers, reporters will be experts, and editing will be news outlets’ core competency. Expert Journalism is our future, not because it is good for journalists but because it is good for news consumers.

I agree with him in some part. Expert Journalism is good for news consumers. And the problem now is that the experts aren't willing to share their expertise in citizen journalism websites because they are afraid of ruining their image. Perhaps they are also afraid of taken as "losers"?

From the situation I've seen with, people who are professionals gained their paycheck for writing in their own way. Professionals who contributes to usually became known and get better in their own field of career. Then the problem of sharing time to write will come. They've got so many other commitments that strained them from writing for wikimu (a bit sad story tough...yet, if we are calculating it like in a multi level marketing then we should have more contributors as one contributors usually brought more friends into the community).

I am intentionally claimed myself only as a homemaker. Actually some contributors were contacting me about doing architectural job or constructional job, but I am not in that stage of life. Today I'm trying to enjoy my life as a homemaker (which is not easy too) and trying to see what people would say or think about opinions that come from an ordinary homemaker. I am also hoping that professional journalists will do their job better, and help us gain more informations...which will be good news for a bookworm (and a fanatic reader of printed newspapers) like me.

I wrote more for than for as it is easier for me to write in Bahasa Indonesia in a local topic. To write for international audience using journalism term is a bit harder, especially as I was not trained as a journalist. Writing for sometimes made me frustrated, and asking myself whether it is for citizen or only for journalists. My internet connection is also another handicap. My connection is slow, and I had spend more money (and time) for uploading an article than needed by friends who are blessed with reliable internet connection. Time passed by, the internet connection in Indonesia is developing. It has several choices with its own range of investments and services. Hopefully it will be developped to a better offering condition for its consumers.

My post title here is actually repeating the same title from Sandra Ordonez (see the Online Journalism Review). Her post's title is "So...what is the future of citizen journalism and social media?" It is an interesting post, showing the relation between citizen journalism and mainstream media, and also their relation with the new wave marketing. I think it would be better to read the whole part of her post to gain a better perspective on the multi-dimension effect of citizen journalism.

From wikimu I learned that contributors can use the citizen journalism website to market their skills. Eventough their writing is not always in their field of expertise, but being known by the community can also give them loyal costumers/clients. Of course it could also be ruining an image, that is why it is very important to post only reliable and (self)edited postings to prevent us from ruining our own name.

As a consumer I think citizen journalism and social media will also bring benefits to costumers. Producers can get better information on our needs. Mainstream media can also be labeled as producers. They produce news. We, the readers, are their consumers. Why do we read a certain media? Because they serve our needs!

The best thing of being involved in a citizen journalism website is the development of our sensitivity to our own environment (people, activity, nation, etc.) We look out with more curiosity. We care more...Hopefully we do more...

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