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Citizen journalism, Citizen media, User-Generated Content, Democracy and Journalism in the 21st Century The media

ecosystem is as stressed as our natural environment heading toward the second decade of the 21st century. "Media climate change" is one way to describe the conditions facing communication professionals, journalists, educators, and students. Looking at one part of the new media landscape, citizen journalism, can help us understand today's media ecology and the changes taking place in mass media today. Journalism is as old as the first cave painting, but some current issues are tied to the writing and thinking of two men in the 1920s and the technology that existed at that time which could be used in mass communication. Walter Lippmann, thirty-something and on the way to establishing his name, clashed with elder statesman, John Dewey, who represented the political philosophy and theories of democracy of an aging generation, perhaps a bit like the "boomers" of the 20th century. Their debate focused on the role of journalism in a democratic society. This is a hot-button issue today. The questions they raised remain unsettled today, but new technologies and communication possibilities color how we think about the same ideas. <a href="http://mssa.library.yale.edu/findaids/eadHTML/mssa.ms.0326.html">Walter J. Lippmann</a>, argues that the modern world is too complex for the average citizen to understand without help. He called for a "journalistic elite" to analyze complex issues facing the nation, and boil down complexity for the common person. The news is so important to our democracy that only a special, trusted source, the elite journalist, could frame it and present it to the public -- a passive mass audience of listeners or viewers. <a href="http://dewey.pragmatism.org/">John Dewey</a> counters with the argument that what people know, news included, is hammered out through public participation, discussions, and communication about ideas and events. News is a civic conversation generated by all kinds of people. Being a part of this civic conversation is what it means to be a good citizen. For Dewey, a responsible journalist revealed and reported on issues in order to strengthen and inform the civic conversation. He saw this as the way to keep a democracy healthy. The emergence of broadcasting beginning with radio in the 1920s, provided an effective oneto-many form of mass communication. The radio networks, the central force in mass media until the 1950s and 1960s, were formed in 1927 and brought into being "The Golden Age of Radio" through the 1930s. This medium was suited for delivery of news and information according to Lippmann's model of news. Radio and television which eclipsed it during the 1950s and 1960s as a news medium, offer limited access and minimal or nonexistent audience interaction. The natural result is that the words of a journalist whose news is heard or seen regularly by a passive, mass audience are viewed as more important than the views of common people. Into the 1970s, the ideal of a good journalist was the sober, well-dressed, well-educated, usually male and white anchor whose presence exuded authority and whose pronouncements

were taken as truth received. Edward R. Murrow <a href=""http://stream.state.gov/streamvol/journals/blackout.mp3"">whose voice</a> came to represent the American effort in WWII in Europe on radio and broadcasters like Walter Cronkite who moved from radio to television, wielded great influence. These elite journalists made the news for the public. When Walter Cronkite, ranked in surveys in the 1970s and 80s as the "most trusted man in America," ended his news broadcasts with the sign-off line, "And that’s the way it is..." most people believed it. Dewey held that news is conversation that leads to civic consensus, but there was no medium in the 1920s that supported many-to-many, interactive communication. Face-to-face town-hall meetings of the 19th century couldn't scale up as the public needed to confront increasingly complex issues and as the population of citizens and voters increased. Citizens had no time nor opportunity to gather in public on a daily basis. The one-to-many, not many-to-many, nature of available mass media meant that access was expensive, closed, and dominated by those who had the money to pay for air-time. Let's click ahead to the early 21st century. The Internet, and the penetration of high-speed broadband, provide many-to-many communication media, including Internet and text messaging. "Being connected" in the developed world today allows inexpensive public conversation between everyone. Low barriers to access mean that more people have a chance to be heard and get their ideas into the global conversation that includes the news in the 21st century. Though Walter Lippmann successfully promoted his model of the journalist as an elite news provider, the model contained the seeds of its own demise. Becoming part of an elite brings with it pressure to serve those in power. The journalist gets distanced from the public he or she is supposed to serve. This can be seen in the migration of stories about wages and benefits for workers from the news of the day to business sections, with shift in the point of view of these stories from the public to the business owner or manager today. In 2000, Christopher Locke, Rick Levine, Doc Searls, and David Weinberger put the Cluetrain Manifesto online http://www.cluetrain.com/book/. It was signed by thousands of people and became the best-selling business book of 2001. Ironically, the entire text was available for free, online. They open the Cluetrain Manifesto, with these words, "A powerful global conversation has begun. Through the
Internet, people are discovering and inventing new ways to share relevant knowledge with blinding speed."

Dewey's citizen conversations found a medium of expression with the rise of the immense, immersive, networked communication that is the Internet. As the 20th century opens, there are tools to talk to each other live, there are forums, there are video-casting tools, there are podcasts and audio, video and text blogging. These are some of the many-to-may communication tools available to everyone from school children to soccer moms to senior citizens. CNN.com featured a summary of the news of 2007 taken exclusively from its IReports http://www.cnn.com/exchange/index.html segments. In Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide, Professor Henry Jenkins says "Right now, convergence culture is throwing media into flux, expanding opportunities for grassroots groups to speak back to the mass media." Digital convergence has steadily been

reducing the cost and increasing access to electronic publishing, making it possible for anyone to join the "global conversation." The interaction has begun. One way the grassroots are talking back takes the form of "citizen journalism." There isn't a tidy definition of citizen journalism, but it encompasses "news" features ranging from the Rodney King video, to phonecam photos of celebrities from phonecam video of the London bombings, to reports about local government or a community pollution "hot spot" by someone who isn't a reporter, but is moved to write about an issue. Citizen news ranges from the trivial, to tragic, to timely. Sometimes, the reporters aren't even citizens, as in some <a href="http://www.globalvoicesonline.org/">global blogs.</a> The evolution of citizen journalism in its current form -- citizens submit stories to editors who rank and publish the stories online -- begins in Seoul, Korea, and extends to hundreds of placeblogs, and to major news organizations across the globe, from the BBC to CNN to NBC. The South Korean online newspaper "Ohmynews" went live in February of 2002. Founded by journalist Oh Yeon Ho, < a href="http://english.ohmynews.com">Ohmynews.com</a> was the first news website to use an open source form of reporting, accepting, editing and publishing articles submitted by readers, as well as stories from professional journalists. About 20% of the site's content is written by the 55-person staff while the majority of articles are written by other freelance contributors who are mostly ordinary citizens. OhmyNews.com won recognition as a major source of news with the December 2002 election of Roh Moo Hyun as President of South Korea. The new president gave his first interview as an exclusive, to Ohmynews.com. Since then, Ohmynews has spun off a print version of its Korean online content, an English version featuring international news, and opened a school for citizen journalists in 2007. The Citizen Media Forums it sponsors every year continue to be very influential around the world in the area of citizen media. In the U.S., after 2001,<a href="http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/media/july-dec05/citizen_1116.html#">citizen journalist sites</a> like the Deerfield Forum, Wikinews.org, and MyMissourian.com began experimenting and publishing different mixes of local news written by citizens or for them in a host of different ways. <a href="http://www.j-newvoices.org/">New Voices</a>, an incubator for pioneering community news ventures that helps fund the start-up of innovative micro-local news projects keeps track of many citizen journalism publications operating today. As the number of households with high speed broadband has reached and exceeded 50%, the production of user-generated content or UGC, including citizen journalism as well as entertainment and all kinds of other content, has become a major force in the media environment. Mainstream media has stopped ignoring citizen journalism and UGC and begun to incorporate forms of citizen journalism into its media mix. It is estimated that one quarter of the content shared via Internet will be added to, remixed, mashed up, and otherwise produced by viewer/audiences by 2013. Returning to Lippmann and Dewey, it is interesting to see that the powerful, all-knowing, authoritative news anchor, the elite journalist, is competing for "eyeballs" and viewers' attention with a variety of many-to-many, interactive niche media in the early 21st century. Lippmann's vision of the elite expert is giving way to Dewey's more interactive and

participatory democracy. The political sphere for the elections of 2004 and 2008 reflect the rise of importance of undominated public discourse in shaping public opinion and moving the electorate. Author Cory Doctorow describes this kind of communication and action, like crowd sourcing and open source, as an "adhocracy" where "knowledge culture turns information into action." The tools to enable Dewey's vision are available and access to the global conversation is getting cheaper and easier each year. As Henry Jenkins notes in Convergence Culture: Where New and Old Media Collide, "The ideal of monitorial citizenship depends on developing new skills in collaboration and a new ethic of knowledge sharing that will allow us to deliberate together." Mass media in the hands of corporate owners won't turn into democracy or act in the public interest on their own, however, they will act in their economic interest. It may be that a consumer-based politics, based on common interests in culture and politics will be the force that transforms Dewey's ideal into reality. Perhaps not, but citizen journalism and citizen media mature, our democracy will discover that the "...power of participation comes not from destroying commercial culture, but from writing over it, modding it, amending it, expanding it, adding greater diversity of perspective, and then recirculating it, feeding it back into the mainstream media." And, as Dewey suggested, participation is a First Amendment right.

Recommended: Watch "Citizen Journalism" at Online Newshour http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/media/julydec05/citizen_11-16.html# References Walter Lippmann Public Opinion, 1922 http://books.google.com/books?id=eLobn4WwbLUC Dewey (New Republic May 3, 1922) and in The Public and Its Problems. also: The Public and Its Problems (New York: Holt, 1927; London: Allen & Unwin, 1927); republished as The Public and Its Problems: An Essay in Political Inquiry (Chicago: Gateway, 1940). Henry Jenkins Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide http://books.google.com/books?id=RlRVNikT06YC&ie=ISO-8859-1 The Cluetrain Manifesto: The End of Business as Usual Copyright © 1999, 2001 Levine, Locke, Searls & Weinberger. http://www.cluetrain.com/book/index.html Mark Whipple, The Dewey-Lippmann Debate Today: Communication Distortion, Reflective Agency, and Participatory Democracy. Sociological Theory. 23:2, June, 2005.