J-School: Educating Independent Journalists

“If tools could make anyone who picked them up an expert, they’d be valuable indeed.” Plato, The Republic

Archive for March, 2008

Citizen Journalism Support: Why No Reporter Training?

Posted by chanders on March 29, 2008

In my life as a Citizen Journalism summit hopper, I spent 34 hours in Los Angeles this weekend at the Berkman Center’s “Media Republic Participatory Media: Surveying the Field in 2008.” All in all, a great conference. My two cents: people are finally starting to take this stuff seriously.

I quickly became known as the guy who asked a lot of questions, and probably my favorite one was the one I directed at a panel entitled “Supporting the New Media Ecology.” Among the types of support organizations represented on the panel were folks from NewsTrust.net and the Chilling Effects Clearinghouse. But why, I asked, was no one talking about providing training and educational support from ordinary people who wanted to be reporters? The answers I got were interesting; here’s, roughly, what they were:

Fabrice Florin (NewsTrust): Who is going to demand it? The demand side for that kind of training isn’t there. The audience and the funders aren’t really interested in good quality journalism; they are interested in other things.

Ernest J Wilson, Dean of Annenberg USC: Who is going to teach it? Journalism and Communications schools are trying to figure out the new media environment just as much as news orgs. They don’t know how to teach their own paying students, much less.people who just want to learn.

Martin Moore, MediaStandardTrust: Who is going to teach it? Media organizations are more concerned with their own future and not going bankrupt than they are with training citizen journalists (who just want to put them out of busiess anyway).

Tony Pierce, LA Tomes: Who is going to take it? Look at the Technorati top 100. Those bloggers want to “share their voice, ““make a million dollars off their blogs,” get mainstream media contracts. Learning basic journalism is not what they’re interested in.


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