Citizen Media

‘Future of Media’ discussion September 24 in Toronto


Citizen media news outlet is proud to announce it will be hosting a unique panel discussion featuring some of the most influential leaders in Canadian media. Dubbed “The Future of Media,” the live panel discussion will explore how the mainstream media are implementing user-generated content and what challenges news organizations face in the changing news economy today.

The event will take place Thursday September 24 at the Drake Hotel Underground (1150 Queen Street West) at 8 p.m. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. and admission is free and open to the public. Seating is limited and will be on a first-come, first-serve basis. The event will also be filmed and streamed live online, as well as broadcast after the event.

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Citizen journalists racing to cover Nascar

Advertising Age reports that stock car racing body Nascar has accredited 28 bloggers and non-mainstream websites to cover races this season.

It seems fewer newspaper sports writers have been turning up in the press boxes as a result of newspaper cutbacks, so Nascar decided it needed a “Citizen Journalist Media Corps” to keep the fans satisfied.

“The last 12 to 18 months, we’ve seen a drop in print media,” says Ramsey Poston, Nascar’s managing director-corporate communications, who oversees the Citizen Journalist project. “We’ve not only lost some of the biggest auto-racing writers in the business due to layoffs and cutbacks — people like Jim Pedley of The Kansas City Star, John Sturbin (of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram) and Grant James (of the St. Petersburg Times) — but we’ve lost the papers themselves. We used to get great coverage from the Rocky Mountain (Colo.) News, and now it doesn’t even exist. And other papers are simply cutting back coverage.

Nascar’s communications department reviewed some 30,000 websites before making the final selection, which includes (pictured).

See also: Fire the sports writers? Not if the teams have anything to say about it

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CBC program explores the future of news

News 2.0 on CBC Radio

CBC Radio launches a two-part series tomorrow on News 2.0: The Future of News in an Age of Social Media

What is now called the “mainstream media” has lost its control over the tools of its trade, and its importance as a centre of social and political influence. The business and philosophical model both appear to be broken, perhaps irrevocably.

There is much to celebrate about this democratization of the media, but there are also reasons to be concerned about the loss of an independent, professional journalistic filter at a time when everyone can be their own media. Can online communities of “citizen journalists” be counted on to help us make informed choices as citizens and consumers? What’s lost, and what’s gained when “News 1.0” gives way to “News 2.0?”

Hosted by Ira Basen the series includes interviews with Clay Shirky, Chris Anderson and Andrew Keen. Partial transcripts are already available at the address above.

The program airs tomorrow at 11am and next Sunday at 10am as part of Sunday Edition on Radio One.

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Twitter reschedules maintenance to keep Iran news flowing

Protest in Iran

From Anderson Cooper’s blog at

…senior officials say the State Department asked Twitter to refrain for going down for periodic scheduled maintenance at this critical time to ensure the site continues to operate. Bureau’s and offices across the State Department, they say, are paying very close attention to Twitter and other sites to get information on the situation in Iran.


…officials say the internet, and specifically social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook, are providing the United States with critical information in the face of a crackdown on journalists by Iranian authorities.

Twitter, as vital national security infrastructure?

» Cyberwar guide for Iran Elections

» June 20 update: Twitter on the baricades: Six lessons learned

» Photo by Hamed Saber on Flickr, June 15, 2009

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First report from The Local’s virtual assignment desk

Citizen journalist Elisabeth Donnelly was the first to have her work published as part of a new program on The Local, a community website operated by the New York Times.

Responding to an invitation on The Local’s new Virtual Assignment Desk (see earlier blog post), Donnelly covered the 88th Precinct Community and Youth Council meeting last Wednesday June 10.

Although her report didn’t follow the traditional inverted pyramid style of news writing, it was packed with interesting details about the meeting, which elicited comments and follow-up questions from her readers.

Donnelly was one of three readers who volunteered for the assignment.

The Virtual Assignment Desk (pictured) now appears throughout The Local, with editors inviting readers to not only accept reporting assignments, but to suggest some too.

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NY Times challenges to readers to become reporters

The Local - neighbourhood websites operated by the New York Times

Neighbourhood website The Local, a project of the New York Times in Fort Greene and Clinton Hill, will launch a virtual assignment desk next week.

Readers are invited to propose assignments – and to carry them out, starting with this one:

We’re looking for someone to go to the 88th Precinct Community Council meeting next Wednesday, the 10th.

It’s at 7:30 p.m. at 333 Lafayette Ave, the Pratt Towers apartment complex, in the community room. At these things, the precinct commander, Capt. Anthony Tasso, or his appointed proxy, will field questions from the audience. There are a few other presenters. It’s usually pretty interesting, or at least the good parts are. Sometimes it even gets a little heated.

We’re looking for someone to go, take notes, take a photo and write up the festivities. Get exact quotes and names of the people you’re quoting. And send the results to us by early Thursday morning. We can explain the details and give you basic training.

The way of the future? I wonder if the “lucky” volunteer will realize how many people from the “mainstream media” will be to watching this with enormous interest.

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Bloggers help Globe & Mail create Toronto hub

Globe and Mail Toronto Hub announcementOne of Canada’s two national newspapers, the Globe and Mail, is going after Toronto readers with help from local blog site Torontoist.

In an announcement on the Globe’s website late Friday night, Toronto editor Kelly Grant [pictured with the announcement] said the newspaper had created an online Toronto hub that would include material from Torontoist, in addition to features such as a Toronto traffic page incorporating Twitter feeds.

The Globe would also increase its city hall staff from two to four.

Torontoist editor David Topping described the agreement as a content-sharing partnership, but didn’t say whether Torontoist would publish Globe and Mail content in return.

The arrangement doesn’t appear to be content-sharing in the usual sense, but rather link-sharing. So far at least, if you click on a Torontoist story from the Globe and Mail site, the story opens on Torontoist, giving the blog site a nice traffic boost.

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Avoiding the “Monet School of Journalism”

OffTheBus was an alternative journalism project designed to cover last year’s US presidential campaign in a way that conventional journalists could not.

Based at, OffTheBus recruited 12,000 citizen journalists, guided by a handful of professional editors.

Sometimes the amateurs were able to venture into events that were officially closed to the media. And that’s where they hit paydirt when Mayhill Fowler captured Barack Obama’s headline-making comments about rural Pennsylvania voters clinging “to guns or religion or antipathy for people who aren’t like them.”

In the latest Columbia Journalism Review, Amanda Michel, director of OffTheBus, reviews the project’s evolution and the challenges of creating a credible, citizen-powered, chronicle of the campaign:

The ideal of a citizen journalist bequeathed to us by new-media evangelists both inspired and got in the way. Incoming writers had great expectations, like beating The Associated Press to a scoop. They raced to put out copy only to realize the story already sat on HuffPost’s homepage. Ultimately, many more felt comfortable being impressionistic, profiling their and their friends’ experiences around the campaign. They resisted hard leads. We risked becoming the Monet School of Journalism. This forced us to redouble our efforts to nudge and teach writers how to produce the sort of reliably reported coverage we desired. We had to create and sustain a strong reporting culture, and that meant slower growth to start, and lots of editing.

Opinions are a dime a dozen. Facts are usually more difficult, and expensive, to come by.

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Doing hyperlocal with style

Oswego neighborhood circle front page

I quite like the look of this hyperlocal site for the Chicago suburb of Oswego. It’s among the first of 30 new citizen journalism sites to be developed by the Sun-Times News Group, under the Neighborhood Circle banner.

Yes, it’s colourful, but this isn’t meant to be the Grey Lady, after all.

John Cary, senior new media operations director at STNG told

[The new sites] will be in areas where we have existing footprints so they will be an extension of our community papers that already have a site, but these will be micro zones.

The sites will serve communities as small as 10,000 people, says Information uploaded by the community will be moderated and fact-checked prior to publication. 

Already, there’s some interesting content on the Oswego site, and the design is much more professional than what one sees at a lot of suburban paper sites. Check it out.

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