Friday, September 16, 2011

Expanding "Citizen Journalism"

The basics of the AP story don't seem bad at first - "The Corporation for Public Broadcasting is awarding a $4.1 million grant to American Public Media to expand its network of "citizen sources" that help provide local news coverage."

Going to the APM website, you find that APM is primarily a program producer, with a bit of public activism thrown in.  The "network of citizen sources" refers to their Public Insight Network, which basically lets people volunteer to be sources for journalists at news organizations affiliated with the network.  It looks, from their examples, to be a site for people who are looking to provide "first-person accounts" promoting themselves or some cause to volunteer to be a source - one who can add "context, depth, humanity, and relevance to news stories".  A bit different than the "knowledgable experts" or "citizen journalists" mentioned in the grant story and headline.  APM's Bill Gray is pretty clear about their purpose and focus in identifying sources:
"Rather than relying on the experts, you can find real people."
Now that's a journalistic standard to be proud of.

And what will their $4.1 million add? The stated purpose is to add another 100,000 "sources" and 50 new affiliated newsrooms - but since both sources and newsrooms volunteer themselves, and the Public Insight Network seems little more than a searchable database, it's not clear at all where the money's going.  Sounds like there's a good story here for a true citizen journalist.

Source: American Public Media gets $4.1 million grant for citizen

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