Along with some of the discussion about citizen journalism at last week's We Media global forum in London, the BBC/Reuters/Media Center poll made it pretty clear that most people still trust the MSM over blogs. Yet over the past month or so I've come acorss some citizen journalism efforts right in the U.S. that bear mention for their efforts:
OlyBlog is a cit-j site out of Olympia, Washington. Founded by Rick McKinnon, it's entirely citizen generated--one can either post to their own blog, or email news to Rick. OlyBlog also aggregates from a number of different sources--including other blogs (which is how I found them--or they found me.) OlyBlog provides two functions that many in the cit-j dialogs feel are important--focus on hyper-local content and filtering via aggregating--and becomes a one-stop spot for trusted local and global information.
Chi-Town Daily News is a beautiful cit-j effort out of Chicago. Their About page explains how they are written "by and for Chicago residents" and encourages citizen involvement. Noticing how there's been a drift to the suburbs in local newspaper coverage (almost the opposite of what's happened in areas like Washington D.C., serviced by Backfence.com) Chi-Town Daily focuses on the city, city events, and news in city neighborhoods. Debuting in Dec '05, it's a great effort worth watching (thanks Mark Hamilton)
Muncie Free Press is the brainchild of journalist K. Paul Mallasch and is a wonderfully eclectic cit-j site covering both town-and-gown (Muncie, the surrounding towns, and Ball St. U) Muncie has *one* newspaper, so what KPaul is doing becomes a vital forum for this part of the U.S. In the sidebar, MFP is explained as "more than just news - it's a conversation." Check out the sidebars--both Activities and Recent Blogs-- to see where the conversation's happening. KPaul's passion for journalism overflows into the group blog Journalism Hope (also a worthy read.)
Whenever I read criticism of cit-j efforts, I think to myself how so many of the critics don't seem to appreciate what motivates people to undertake cit-j efforts--and am always taken by the tone that seems to insist the people should ask permission from MSM. Do we, as a society, always need permission from the Powers That Be before the people decide to take initiatives to meet the underserved needs of their communiites? The folks at OlyBlog, Chi-Town Daily News, and Muncie Free Press have provided their own unique answers that are worth a second look.