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Archive for the ‘citizenjournalism’ tag

Journalists? Bloggers? Citizens? Who are these people?


Talking about local

Talking about local

This weekend’s first unconference event for those running local community websites raised some fascinating issues – not least in areas of ethics and access.

Bringing together people from across the UK to share skills, knowledge and experience meant Talk About Local 09 quickly revealed some of the issues for these self-publishers, community activists, bloggers and journalists.

And how these people are considered lies at heart of these issues – what do we call someone who’s taken it on themselves to start a website for the local community and how should they be treated?

It was clear from listening to their experiences that there’s no consensus on this.  At the one extreme, local councils had denied access and even been accused of making late-night pressuring calls to remove material, while at the other end of the scale, some more enlightened council press officers treated the new news sources in the same way as the established local newspaper.

As I pointed out in The Guardian piece on this issue, the governing body the National Association for Local Authorities is reviewing its stance, but one thing’s for sure, the authorities are not moving quickly enough to properly reflect the reality of the changed local news landscape.

One of the participants in Saturday’s event thinks the issue is one of perception of who brings ‘the truth’, as a posting on the blog Culturing Stuff says;

“Just lately it seems as though every institution we hold dear, has some kind of skeletal defect waiting to be discovered if we decide to open the cupboard door. So with this in mind let’s revert back to the point… How come blogging is blogging and the news is THE NEWS (all official and truthful) and is Bloggin seen as a lesser being, just because the format has no established rules or code of conduct?”

All this appears to lead us back to one of the debates circulating last week about transparency and it is perhaps that, in the end, which will provide the measure of whether something is regarded as credible or truthful by the authorities currently keeping the gate of information sources.

Any journalists – or council press officers – want to comment?

* See more pictures at the Flickr pool for Tal09 and dip into the day’s debates with this Tweetdoc.

Written by sarahhartley

October 5th, 2009 at 8:08 am

#TedXlp Liverpool’s ‘social journalism’ demonstrated at tech conference


Herbert Kim gets TedX North started

Herbert Kim gets TedX North started

“With social journalism, the more noise the better,” said the final speaker wrapping up at the first TED X North event in Liverpool yesterday.

Completing a talk, ‘Networked news; the rise of social newsgathering’, the Liverpool Post and Echo’s executive editor of digital, Alison Gow demonstrated how local newspaper reporters were facing up to the challenges, and opportunities, that social media platforms presented.

Using a case study involving a local news story about a crane collapse which had, in part, been covered by the newspaper’s reporters finding and sharing updates on Twitter and Flickr, she said journalists now had to “give back and engage with online communities” before predicting a future which would entail “fewer papers with fewer people doing more in depth investigative journalism”.

(See more commentary from this talk on my FriendFeed here.)

It seemed a fitting end to an event conceived around an offline-online-offline conference – an independently organised series of events across the north of England which involves screenings of online videos filmed originally at the TED conferences.

A heady mix of journalists, tech entrepreneurs, artists, engineers and educators packed into a darkened auditorium in the city’s ICDC To see the films and also to hear the live speakers.

As one of those involved in bringing the TED material to the new venues, Herbert Kim admitted the idea of inviting a group of people to get together to view a film they could just as easily watch at home had been a step into the unknown – see the video for more on this.


Attendees also heard from;

* Microsoft’s Steve Clayton, who showed the audience some of the projects his company is working on including which, among other zoomable features, enables the creation of panoramic photos generated from a bundle of individual snaps and the Surface interactive table top which was available to try out at the venue.

* Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino from! who is inspired to move away what she identified as a ‘black box’ culture of expertise to innovations where users can see under the bonnet and feel enabled to get their hands dirty as in this example.

The film clips viewed included this criticism of the education system from Sir Ken Robinson and this delightful film experiment with marshmallows which the audience were also asked to participate in – predictably unsuccessfully!

The Ted X North events now move to TEDxLeeds – 10th September, TEDxSheffield – 16th September TEDxNewcastle – 30th September  and finally TEDxManchester – 2nd October.

What did you think of the event? Will you be attending the next one? Let me know below.

* The Liverpool Post’s report on the event can be seen here.

Written by sarahhartley

August 8th, 2009 at 9:42 am

‘Mash this!’ whispers Aunty Beeb


Chances are, you won’t have heard of R&D TV. As the name suggests, this is an experimental new programming format from the BBC where footage is supplied with the intention that you and I won’t just consume, but we will take the opportunity to create too.

As it says on the site: “The clips are raw straight from our cameras and although this may be too much for most people, it makes great footage for those who want to remix and mashup our footage with there (sic) own or others.”

Trouble is, only one such mashup has so far taken place despite worldwide access and awareness of the initiative is very limited.

Is this just early days for something ahead of the curve , or is the mighty institution smothering its fledgling participatory offering before it can get out of the nursery?

The crowd at last night’s Social Media Cafe in Manchester were in no doubt it was the latter, provoking a lively debate with the BBC’s Ian Forrester (AKA @cubicgarden).

Why couldn’t the BBC promote the new programmes through established programmes such as Click? Why wasn’t it available in iPlayer? Will it ever be shown on BBC2 – or even 3?

(As a personal aside – just look at the URL, hard to think of anything less user friendly).

Ian was able to explain many of the issues around licensing which make it difficult for R&D TV – soundtracks with music under copyright to artists for example, couldn’t be just handed out for further publication and distribution.

Fair enough points but, as several members of the audience pointed out, surely there’s content which is wholly BBC produced which could be offered up – or even specifically commissioned – if a true collaboration is going to take place?

I was left thinking that probably the highest hurdle this  brave project faces is an organisational mindset one – let’s hope that doesn’t take too long or become too distracting and good luck to Ian in pushing this on.

There’s no doubt that, while those internal bickerings take place, creative mashups will continue without any regard to licensing issues, hurt egos or approval from Aunty Beeb.


* There’s an audioBoo of reaction to the talk here.

* A FriendFeed commentary I did during the session with Ian can be seen here.

Written by sarahhartley

June 3rd, 2009 at 8:25 am

links for 2009-02-18

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  • “The skills, though, aren’t the answer. As one news executive said, “We need to take staff to Web 2.0 and beyond – to make learning more nimble and flexible.” This executive, after putting staff through training pilots, realized that multimedia literacy and a basic understanding of what it meant to work in a Web environment was what people needed – before they could go about learning the hardware.” This thoughtful post also makes the understated point that “multimedia training is also about making new connections across your organization.”
  • has become the fourth-biggest online video distributor by unique visitors in January, behind YouTube, Yahoo and MySpace, according to the latest from Nielsen VideoCensus. In total video streams, it’s No. 3, with 232 million, behind YouTube (5.8 billion) and Yahoo (277 million).
  • A collaborative database unveiled. “We aim to overcome what we believe is a limitation of many “citizen journalism” initiatives to date, i.e. viewing citizen journalism as an end in itself, where citizens are supposed to replace professional journalists, filling up community sites with reporting. We believe citizen journalism is part of a larger process where professional journalists still play the vital role they always have.”

Written by sarahhartley

February 18th, 2009 at 8:04 pm