August 07, 2003

Participatory Journalism

J.D. Lasica, who normally muses about new media on his own Web site, has written a package of stories for the Online Journalism Review about the emergence and spread of participatory journalism - an umbrella term he uses to cover all forms of thin media, from blogging to one-man digital television stations streamed over the Web.

It's a solid package that pulls together numerous examples of how non-traditional media is capturing audience and redefining, at least for its producers and consumers, the definition of news.

Lasica also cites a few examples of how some newspapers are inviting readers to publish eyewitness accounts or photographs of news events, but I didn't find much ground broken here. See this example from the Santa Fe New Mexican.

Of course, self-publishing and other forms of participatory journalism are both a threat and an opportunity to traditional news media, particularly newspapers.

Newspapers certainly don't need another media type with which to compete for reader attention, especially one that invites readers to sit at the keyboard themselves. They could, however, embrace the change and lead the reader instead of following him. Their track record in this area is lousy, though.

Participatory journalism is another one of those fields that newspapers should be playing in even if they don't fully understand its implications. The future tends to unveil itself only to those who are there. (You must be present to win).

As columnist and blogger Dan Gillmor says at the end of Lasica's story: "It's difficult to figure out where all this is going to wind up. Journalism from the edges is taking us to a new place. The only thing certain is that we'll never return to the days when people are treated as passive vessels for content delivered by big media through one-way pipes -- no matter how disruptive these changes may be for traditional media."

 Online Journalism Review Personal Broadcasting Opens Yet Another Front for Journalists
 Sidebar Participatory Journalism Puts the Reader in the Driver's Seat
 What is Participatory Journalism?

Posted by Tim Porter at August 7, 2003 08:28 AM