Wednesday, September 21, 2005
Citizen journalism site iTalkNews: "We're not looking to replace big media"
As the phenomenon picks up speed, more and more citizen journalism projects, many with different themes, are popping up all over the Web. San Francisco Bay Area based iTalkNews is one of them. Launched in beta a few months ago, iTalkNews focuses on national news, combining user contributions with wired news from the Associated Press. Perhaps the most distinguishing feature of the site is that all articles are fact-checked before being posted on the main page, somewhat of a contradiction to other CJ sites that thrive on the rawness of their material. Elizabeth Lee, iTalkNews' co-founder and editor-in-chief explained some of the site's motives and goals through an email interview with the Editors Weblog:
1. When did you launch iTalkNews? What was your motivation for starting the site? Did you have any influences?
We launched iTalkNews in the spring of 2005. Since launching, many people have drawn comparisons between iTalkNews and OhMyNews, based in South Korea. While the seminal OhMyNews was definitely an inspiration for us, we set up iTalkNews not as a counterpart to OhMyNews, but as an independent collaborative journalism site based in the U.S.
What we see here in the United States, and what we’re trying to remedy, is that something is wrong in traditional journalism. In a world where information is becoming more interactive daily, in news there is still a disturbing linearity of information from top-down, with very little feedback from the people involved or being affected. For instance, in the aftermath of 9/11 and now during the Iraq War, many people are finding it difficult to find a reliable news source, or even commentary, because they suspect news sources to be politically aligned or biased, and so many stories have been either undercovered or omitted completely. People have begun to look to blogs for supplemental information, but blogs aren’t usually fact-checked and don’t have established systems of accountability.
We’re not looking to replace big media. However, what we want to provide is an alternative source of news for people to have their voices heard, and create a more reciprocal flow of information.
2. What has been the reaction to the project? How many contributors have signed on? How many articles of original material are received per week?
Overall there has been very positive reaction. We have nearly 1000 contributors, and receive anywhere between fifteen to thirty new contributions per week.
3. Could you explain the difference between the ?guerrilla news? that OhmyNews represents and the idea of ?democratic journalism? behind iTalkNews?
I think it may be just a question of semantics. We don?t frame ourselves in competition with OhMyNews. Right now the field of citizen journalism is so new that we view all of the CJ sites as pioneers in a new world, and we?re trying to share what we?re learning with each other in a grand experiment.
4. There are many stories from the Associated Press posted on the site. Do you have an agreement with the news agency? Do you have any partnerships with other news organizations, be they national or local?
We have a license with the Associated Press. Like I said, we?re not looking to replace ?big media?, and we?d like to be a ?one stop shop? for news readers who want their AP fix but also would like to read citizen articles about recent events. We don?t currently have any partnerships with other news organizations, in the U.S. or internationally, but are definitely open to the possibility. It would be amazing to have an international network of collaborative journalism sites.
5. Many citizen journalism sites focus on local news but yours concentrates on national news. Could you explain the differences and additional challenges in making a citizen journalism site work on a national level.
Though I?ve never worked on a local CJ site myself, what I?ve noticed is that with local sites, people tend to naturally gravitate towards local issues, etc. that creates a sense of immediacy and relevancy. With a national site, that immediacy can be somewhat diluted. In addition, there is a danger that articles generally become lengthy op-ed pieces instead of informative pieces about what?s happening in a smaller community.
However, national collaborative journalism sites don?t operate under the same constraints that traditional national media does of time, space, budget, and being spoon fed news from sources like the White House and corporate America. Its common knowledge that often you won?t get access unless you report what ?they? want. National collaborative platforms like iTalkNews allow for a wider and varied view of stories as long as they are backed up by facts.
6. As of now, your staff of three does all of the editing for the site and all articles are fact-checked before being placed on the main page. Has this proved to be a daunting task for such a small editorial staff? Do citizen journalist contributors have to provide you with their notes and sources as well?
It?s really amazing what a staff of three, a small army of interns, and an endless supply of coffee can do. So far, editing has not been a major issue because we don?t have more than five stories submitted on the site daily. Writing is an arduous process, and since we don?t have a compensation model I imagine many feel it to be even more of a labor. For the stories that we decide to publish on the main, we will ask for notes and sources from the contributors.
7. You have been quoted as hoping to eventually turn your site completely over to contributors. What is your vision of how the editing process would work on such a site? Would it be in the spirit of a Wiki?
In the spirit of a Wiki, yes. However, there are several differences from a Wiki. Firstly, not all members can edit. We would only allow our senior iTalk members to edit stories, chosen from a story queue. We?re currently in the process of developing a set of iTalkNews Editors? Guidelines for this purpose. However, all iTalkers would be encouraged to vote on stories and leave comments. The stories with the most votes would be posted on the website, with the stories with the most votes ?lifting? towards the top of the page. Secondly, unlike a Wiki which relies on ?publish, then filter? philosophy, the content of iTalk stories selected for the front page would be verified and fact checked before being posted. In that sense we?re definitely still part of the old guard.
8. You took a trip along the West Coast this summer to introduce your site and to seek suggestions from everyday citizens. Could you give us some examples of suggestions you received that you plan on implementing?
I think mostly people were impressed with the vision of our project. People generally wanted more photo and video journalism, as well as podcasting. Citizen generated audio video media may eventually pose new ?citizen editing? difficulties, i.e. verifying whether a video taken on the fly from a cell phone is accurate. However, we eventually plan to be able to implement all of these new technologies on our website, so that we can create a citizen journalists? ?toolkit?.
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Citizen journalism an innovative and powerful tool to knowledge based society
Information is the basis of knowledge. When any information we know is processed and lodged in our minds became knowledge. We are rapidly proceeding towards knowledge society in information era. To acquire verities of knowledge on different subjects, the future dreamed knowledge society will require multi levels information delivery systems. The Contemporary media and other information channels and sources could not alone meet the demands of information, so knowledge societal ethics ask every citizen to contribute his or her share to make this society reality.
In contemporary journalism gate keepings are done at every level in name of editorial reviews, and premium membership. But citizen journalism is trying to remove all such gate keepings from journalism because in knowledge society every citizen is a torch carrier of information. In true spirit lesser gate keeping will be the guarantee of high valued citizen journalism .Knowledge society can not will be developed in computers or other electronics gadgets but only and only in human minds, so without equal participations of each and every minds, big or small. We couldn’t dream of our future .The free, fair and fast (3F) 4 all should be the main ethics of citizen journalism.
To understand the definition and scope of citizen journalism one should go to the roots of traditional journalism. The journalism was developed and lived with human from Stone Age to computer age but its nature and scope were different in every age of human development. In stone age journalism was in form of verbal intrapersonal as requirements of that age were geographical and anatomical .Than came the mechanical/technological age, when wheel started to turned the development of mankind, in this age print and electronic journalism had made its presence because machine produced products made free economics traveling around the world cutting across the geographical barriers. The information era popularly called information revolution, knowledge based society will be its bio product. To meet the future demand of information revolution, journalism has to change its contemporary form to basics, from where it had started participation of all as it were in Stone Age when every human had to act as journalist to make information flow in his or her society. Again in information revolution every citizen has to make his or her informatory contribution. The citizen journalism has emerged as an innovative and powerful tool for common citizens to deliver their shares in shaping knowledge based society in or around them.
Posted by: Dinesh Singh Rawat at Feb 12, 2007 12:12:08 PM
Delhi High Court hurriedly jailed Manu Sharma: Just for Media glare ?
Justice for Jessica lall was not only struggle of media or Sabrina lall as it is now projected. It was the people of India means us who has try to give our voices against "justice delayed, justice denied' in this case.
When this case had reached Delhi high court in April 2006 the ray of hopes raised in our eyes that Indian judiciary will use this opportunities to make a system for ordinary Indian who are facing "justice delayed, justice denied' in every sphere of their lives.
But all to Indian high judiciary, it has played in hands of Indian media glare and tried to decide case so hurriedly even ignoring basics of natural justice and lost that chance to evolve a system which would not only take care that "Justice delayed, justice denied" but will also keep "Justice hurried, Justice buried" in its mind.
When now even Saddam’s judicial trial is in question on natural justice grounds in a country with no human rights track records. Than In our nation which we consider as progressive democracy, this type of justice delivery is above common minds.
Now ordinary Indian feels cheated by media and Sabrina lall because he/she was told by these (Indian media and Sabrina) that fight for Jessica was for ordinary Indian.
All those who lit candles in India gate was ignored when Sabrina lall and Indian media celebrated their victory with opening of champagne bottles and making V sign.
Now all of us who fought for Jessica lall have high hope on Indian Supreme court to take it as opportunity and do some thing for common people of India which was lost by Delhi high Court under media Glare.
Posted by: tmtindia at Jan 10, 2007 10:16:11 PM
Btw, if you want to see a short video about the road trip, you can follow this URL:
Posted by: Liz Lee at Sep 21, 2005 6:54:03 PM