Category: p2p media

Tsunami Revisited: Evelyn Rodriguez

(This is a duplicate that occurred while I was using a new plug-in. I’m leaving it up in case someone is linking to it.)

Getting to know Evelyn Rodriguez, who translated surviving last year’s tsunami into something personal for those of us light years away, was one of the best parts of BlogHer for me; even better was the late afternoon we spent in Palo Alto a couple of days later. I’ve been incredibly remiss in not mentioning her anniversary trip back to Thailand, where she came so close to losing her life. This time, Evelyn’s  journalistic mission is no accident. — she’s on the scene as a solo journalist, also as a participatory journalist and a citizen journalist as long as we’re tossing terms around.. (Yes, I still shudder at the cj description but I’ll honor others’ choices.)

Evelyn explains: "I’m collecting stories of resiliency, growth, faith, and grassroots action – and whatever unfolds once actually there. I’ll offer (and hopefully via in-kind donations leave behind equipment) to teach locals to tell their own first-person stories in their own words on their own blogs long after I’m gone. … I’ll delve into how people are rebuilding emotionally, psychologically, spiritually. I believe their stories can teach all of us and shed light for anyone confronting with loss in their own lives. And now with Katrina and worldwide disasters in Guatemala, Mexico and Pakistan/India, it seems all the more relevant to learn from those thriving post-tsunami."

You can follow her journey through her blog Crossroad Dispatches. And you can give yourself a (insert holiday of your choice) present by supporting Evelyn’s efforts via the tipjar or Paypal (less admijnistrative cost for her), as I have.

Ethics Codes Revisted

My OJR colleague JD Lasica writes that the SPJ Code of Ethics "isn’t really applicable to bloggers or citizens media." This comes up as he heads the standards committee of the Media Bloggers Association. JD, forget the small print — although, based on years of walking through ethics questions with professional journalists, students and members of the general public, a lot of the bullet points are more applicable than you might think. Heck, skip the preamble, too.

Focus, instead, on the core principles:

  • Seek Truth and Report It
  • Minimize Harm
  • Act Independently
  • Be Accountable

Not applicable to bloggers or p2p journalists? (The term "citizen journalism" suggests that professional journalists are not citizens.) I’m not saying they apply to all bloggers because I’m not sure there’s a code or set of principles that could but they can be cornerstones for those who choose the responsibility of publishing news and information beyond their own daily activities.

I’m not suggesting that the MBA adopt SPJ’s code as its own or that the 1996 revision that took so many of us so much time to achieve is the be all and end all when it comes to codes of ethics. But it was designed to offer core principles and I hope the MBA, which includes a lot of people I respect, will take that into consideration as it forges ahead.

JD says he’ll be writing more about this soon. I’m looking forward to it.

Related: Too Many Codes? | Changing Linguistic Gears 

Free Dead

Deadhead Bill Walton Interviews Bill Kreutzmann

Scott Rosenberg’s excellent notes from Web 2.0 include a bit about the Grateful Dead.

Mickey Hart was on stage at the end of the day Thursday, talking about
the history of the Dead and the "tapers" the band allowed to record
their shows. He pointed out ways in which that community was similar to
today’s file-trading hordes, and ways that it was different. But one
thing he said stood out for me: The Dead played for pay and they played
for free; "we always played better when we played free."

This reminded me of a brief chat I had with GD drummer Bill Kruetzmann at CES. It took me a while to find the reference; forgot I’d done it as a caption on Flickr. (The camera-phone photo predates my understanding of the zoom feature, unfortunately; Bill Walton actually looks small.) I asked him about music swapping since the Dead essentially were p2p
pioneers. He mentioned the tension between making money and free music
but said, "Music needs to be free." I wrote then and still think now that the GD have managed to do both by
respecting their audience.   

CNN’s Sit Room: Deja Vu All Over Again

Reading about the new CNN Situation Room and the other interactive efforts underway, I had the strangest feeling we’d stood and talked like this before. (Apologies to Rogers & Hart.) We had — the CNN show was called TalkBack Live and it broke the ground the others stand on today. And yet it’s as if the show never happened. I’ve posted the full article I wrote about TBL seven years ago in extended comments; here are some excerpts.

On any given day, participants can join a live audience, enter an on-line
chat room, send e-mail, phone in or fax in. By late August, "TalkBack Live‘s" newest access point — video conferencing — should be out of testing and ready to go. And computer users with a fairly fast connection, a decent video card and the right software don’t have to turn on a TV to watch the show via Webcast. …

When "TalkBack Live" debuted on Aug. 22, 1994, the reviews were not all kind. Some were downright dismissive of the techno-gimmickry and the addition of yet another talk show. One reviewer described it as CNN’s "’Larry King Live‘ crossed with ‘Donahue’ with just a hint of talk radio." …

It may be hard to imagine, but the show began before the Web was a household word. Back then CNN’s major on-line presence was through CompuServe, where "TalkBack Live" hosted a forum. E-mail, faxes and phone calls were all part of the mix. The show even tried video conferencing, but the technology was too slow to be of real use. …

I’m not suggesting the Sit Room is a TBL remake or that it isn’t worth attention in its own right. But it didn’t spring from Zeus fully formed, either, and a lot of what’s being tried now isn’t new.

\r\nThat way there are no commercials, though CNN does run a promo every time you
\r\n"tune in."
\r\nSoon, viewers may even have a direct say in the topics to be discussed on
\r\nthat day\’s show.
\r\nWhen "TalkBack Live" debuted on Aug. 22, 1994, the reviews were not all kind.
\r\nSome were downright dismissive of the techno-gimmickry and the addition of yet
\r\nanother talk show. One reviewer described it as CNN\’s " \’Larry King Live\’
\r\ncrossed with \’Donahue\’ with just a hint of talk radio."
\r\nToday, however, the concept doesn\’t seem so far-fetched, says Teya Ryan, vice
\r\npresident of program development for CNN Productions and the creator of
\r\n"TalkBack Live."
\r\n"A lot of it came out of the \’92 campaign, when you started to see the
\r\ncandidates going around the media and to the public trying to create a direct
\r\nline. . . . It seemed the public was really responding," she says. "They wanted
\r\nmore direct access to people that influence their lives, and those people could
\r\nbe the president, members of Congress, the head of a corporation, anyone whom
\r\nthe general public generally doesn\’t have direct access to."
\r\nCNN, she thought, was in a unique position to make this happen as a network
\r\nthat has room "to go beyond the experts and create a direct link between the
\r\npublic and the people who have power in the country."
\r\nA live audience in the atrium of CNN Center in Atlanta was the core of the
\r\nidea, but Ryan thought the show could do more. "People were beginning to
\r\ncommunicate in ways that were really different. If I was going to open this up I
\r\nthought we should do it in a way that acknowledged that."
\r\nAnd, she added, "I felt that we shouldn\’t close the doors to anyone. If you
\r\ncouldn\’t come to Atlanta but could send in a fax, you should get on the show."”,1]

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Sy Hersh, Technology and Journalism

The Guardian’s Hamish Mackintosh interviews rabblerousing investigative reporter Sy Hersh about the impact of technology on journalism.  A few excerpts:

So Dan Gillmor’s idea that "we are the media" isn’t quite the case yet? The net does one thing great for people like me: it used to be that if
I wrote a good hard story for the New Yorker magazine and the New York
Times didn’t pick it up then we all felt bad. Now the internet is so
vibrant that everything’s on it on blogs, logs or websites. The blogs are still very undisciplined though and they can be very vicious.

Has the net made it harder to cover up stories such as Abu Ghraib? … The
big impact of the net is that there’s an astonishing amount of
information to be accessed by people who know their way. For me, the
net is all about information flow, and in the long run it’s going to
mean better information.

How important is an online presence to the New Yorker? I don’t
know for sure but I think it’s a big deal for them. I know when I have
a good story going they get about half a million hits a day. …

Changing Linguistic Gears

Steve Outing asks:

"Do you think the terms "citizen journalism" or "citizen media" are the ones we should be using? I’ve been writing lots
about the concepts of citizen journalism, and about the activities of
pioneers in the field. But I can’t say that I’m enamored yet with the
term we seem to have settled on, even though I’ve used it often in my
own writing."

He wonders if J.D. Lasica’s term of "personal media" would work instead, adding  "I like that term a little better than citizen journalism/media — though perhaps it’s not as descriptive."

I wrote about this here a few weeks ago  when Bayosphere debuted

I’ve grown increasingly disconcerted by use of the term "citizen journalism," which seems to suggest that professional journalists — those of us who do it for a living —  aren’t citizens. Grassroots media works in some instances, as do a few other terms (including we-media, as in Dan’s book "We The Media" ), but I’m going with "p2p media" or "peer media" for now.

I’m working on a project now for OJR and we will not be using "citizen journalism" as a term although, of course, we’ll use it in quotes or in self-descriptions.  Robert Niles expressed his frustration with the same issue in a recent OJR roundtable, casting his vote for "Dan Gillmor’s term, grassroots journalism. Why? Process of elimination, mostly." He explains:

journalism implies that traditional journalists are somehow not
citizens. Phooey. Professional journalists collectively care more about
the quality and justice of their countries and communities than folks
in many, if not most, other industries. ‘Participatory’ journalism makes me think of George Plimpton suiting up for the Detroit Lions.
‘Reader-driven’ journalism ignores the fact that journalism’s always been driven by readers. Edit a paper that readers don’t read and your publisher soon
will ask you to find a new job.
‘Community’ journalism brings
with it the baggage of what is also called “civic journalism,” an
endeavor that has its passionate supporters, but that is not the same
things as what we are discussing here. So why conflate the two?
leaves me with ‘grassroots’ journalism, which gets to the point of what
we’re doing — allowing folks nearest the ground, if you will, to
provide the news directly to other readers.
Maybe terminology
is not important. But if we want our readers to care about their words
in their work, I believe we should give careful thought to our words in
describing their work."

I can live with grassroots but it doesn’t get at the peer-to-peer qualities. I also don’t think grassroots adequately describes journalism nurtured by newsrooms.  Personal media may be about sharing personal media creations but when it’s not neccessarily journalism. Personal journalism? Sounds like its a personalized home page.

Back to you, Steve.

Coda: Re changing minds about terms … I suggested at BloggerCon III  that "podcasting" might be an exclusionary term, leading people who didn’t  know about it to think it referred only to iPods.  I also wondered if the term could draw the wrath of Steve. The response was instant and visceral: nothing could change minds about "podcasting" as the term and, besides, it wasn’t really about iPods. (Say that 1,000 times and people will still believe iPods is the root word.)  It had been in use only a few months but was already embedded in the consciousness of a vocal, active group — and was already at the core of numerous business plans. 

Welcome, Bayosphere

As I reported late yesterday on paidContent, Dan Gillmor’s first Grassroots Media project is underway: The first phase — moving Dan’s blog from Typepad to Bayosphere — was close enough to being accomplished to go live last night.  (No RSS feeds yet.) Registration is required for comments, as part of the community-building effort. This makes particular sense for Dan, who has been plagued by a troll and comment spam. I’m all for a high quality-to-noise ratio although registration, particularly when anonymity is allowed,  is no guarantee of quality. Good luck on all counts, Dan — and please give "" a home as soon as you can.

One more thing: I’ve grown increasingly disconcerted by use of the term "citizen journalism," which seems to suggest that professional journalists — those of us who do it for a living —  aren’t citizens. Grassroots media works in some instances, as do a few other terms (including we-media, as in Dan’s book "We The Media" ), but I’m going with "p2p media" or "peer media" for now.