August 7, 2003

A series on participatory journalism

A few hours ago the Online Journalism Review posted what I consider to be my most important series of articles this year (not counting the book I’m working on).

The subject is participatory journalism. The three-part package includes:

Personal Broadcasting Opens Yet Another Front for Journalists

Participatory Journalism Puts the Reader in the Driver’s Seat

What is Participatory Journalism?

OJR originally didn’t package these well, but they’ve corrected this, so I’ve temporarily removed the articles from my site. (As I say below, my complaint is really with all online news outlets, which continue to make related material very difficult to find. In any event, that minor quibble about format shouldn’t overshadow the thrust of the articles.)

An excerpt from the main article:

By night, Raven — the name everyone uses for 47-year-old Harold Kionka — works as a janitor, mopping the floors and cleaning the grease traps in TGIFriday’s in Daytona Beach, Fla.

By day, he operates almost single-handedly a 24-hour Internet TV station, serving as owner, station manager, producer and on-air personality. Daytonabeach-live brings live coverage of events in the Florida resort town to as many as 17,000 viewers a day.

Raven and a handful of others are at the vanguard of a new breed of journalism: personal broadcasting. Using equipment that is now relatively inexpensive and simple to use, these video pioneers are claiming a stake in territory that was once the exclusive province of big media.

And the first sidebar:

The New Directions for News report says of this phenomenon: “Everyone on the Internet is a potential expert on some subject — from Pez dispensers to digital photography techniques to wormholes — and these participatory forms are great places to find and share not only obscure or rare information, but commentary that might be too controversial for mainstream media.”

One of those niche publishers is Sheila Spencer Stover of Bunn, N.C., whose Indian name is Firehair Shining Spirit. She runs the Internet Native News and Issues List, a mailing list with 400 members, mostly native Americans. …

“Our members talk about prison rights, religious freedom, the selling of spirituality, the repatriation of bones, the stockpiling of native artifacts in museums stolen out of grave sites, building on sacred lands, the reclaiming of languages, elder health, Alaskan natives afflicted by gas-sniffing, suicide on reservations, issues with Indian trust monies, the Pipestone project in Montana, where they want to build a theme park on sacred land — we exchange news about anything and everything,” she says.

Here’s the series of articles I’ve written about new media as a force in empowering readers and citizen-journalists:

In this series:

•  Personal video journalism hits the Net

•  Participatory journalism puts the reader in the driver’s seat

•  What is participatory journalism?

•  Niches of trust

•  Independents day

•  When webloggers commit journalism

•  Personal storytelling

•  Women’s Enews, a news service with an agenda

•  Citizens as budding reporters and editors


Steve Outing in E-Media Tidbits this morning recounts my complaint about OJR’s burying my two sidebars. It wasn’t that big a deal to me — if it was, I would have taken it up with OJR’s editors. As it turns out, they’ve redesigned the page to make the two siders more prominent.

My complaint is really with all online news outlets, which continue to make related material — even stories that are part of the same package — very difficult to find. It’s one of the major flaws in the online news soup.

Mitch Ratcliffe over at has kind words for the participatory journalism series, though he prefers the term “civic journalism.” He’s right — the label’s less important than the concept.

Howard Rheingold liked the package, too. He excerpted the section on programmers Matt Haughey and Rusty Foster’s plan to launch a “smart mob-style site” to provide a place for independent reporting about next year’s election. also reported on that bit of news today.

Ernie the Attorney blogs from his temporary new home on TypePad.

Tim Porter weighs in thoughtfully, writing, “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.”

In “Moblog the vote,” BoingBoing points to the 2nd OJR story by way of the mention in Lost Remote about the upcoming experiment in citizen coverage of the 2004 election.

At Projo, Sheila Lennon went nuts today with a great examination of the issues related to participatory journalism, pointing out specific kinds of reader participation that take place at the Providence Journal.

JD Lasica, founder of, is now co-founder of the cruise discovery engine Cruiseable. See his About page, contact JD or follow him on Twitter or Google Plus.

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8 thoughts on “A series on participatory journalism

  1. Why Civic Journalism Matters

    J.D. Lasica has a great package on “participatory journalism” over to his blog today — it's an Online Journalism Review posting. Fascinating stuff and dead-on with regards to what we are trying to do with Why do I use the qualifie…

  2. Partcipatory Journalism: Theory and Practice

    JD Lasica writes about participatory journalism. Then, practically as an example, Kevin Marks comments on an article by Xeni Jardin for Grammy Magazine. He uses QuickTopic's Document Review feature which means anyone can join in. Xeni does. Very cool. …

  3. Microcontent & micropayments

    Participatory journalism Microcontent Social Networks Some fascinating discussion about new forms of journalism and new business models to go along…

  4. JD – Could just be me (I’ve been having some issues), but the links in the “In this series:” section all went to 404 errors on me. You might want to doublecheck them.

  5. I’m in your debt, Ken. I copied those links from my website, where they worked, but my blog has a different directory structure. Fixed now.