30 November 2011

Be your own reporter

Citizen journalism is an exciting concept. Start a free blog, add a digital camera or phone and you are in business, reporting the angles missed by the mass media.
Except it can be hard for individuals to get a following, and even harder for people to trust what they read. Facts need to be checked and sources cited accurately. Information needs to be timely and views balanced, or opinion explicit.
Professional journalists typically receive training and have support in the form of an editor or a sub-editor who can edit text and help balance priorities, or a researcher able to help track down facts, photos and people. Larger media organizations employ staff to develop web applications for uploading video, and marketers to grow their audience.
But a new set of tools can help independent amateurs innovate, network and achieve high standards. The Citizen Media Toolkit is a great learning opportunity and provides a virtual academy of contacts and experts who are helping to define this vibrant field.
The toolkit includes institutions that offer training in new approaches to self-made reportage. Alternatively you can easily locate traditional educators that include these approaches, such as Poynter's News University. See my earlier blog for more training options.