The line between journalism and personal publishing is a blurry one, thanks to new ubiquitous tools that make it possible for anyone to publish and report news.
Participatory journalism is a slippery creature. Everyone knows what audience participation means, but when does that translate into journalism? Alas, there’s no simple answer. In a segment on PBS’s “NewsHour” last April that asked, “Is blogging journalism?” Joan Connell, an executive producer at MSNBC.com, suggested that independent bloggers aren’t journalists because no editor comes between the author and reader. “I would submit that (the newsroom) editing function really is the factor that makes it journalism,” she said.
“For the first time, people at the edges of the network have the ability to create their own news entities,” says Dan Gillmor, a San Jose Mercury News journalist who is writing a book about participatory journalism.
So what is PARTICIPATORY JOURNALISM?
When small independent online publications and collaborative news sites with an amateur staff perform original reporting on community affairs, few would contest that they’re engaged in journalism.
When citizens contribute photos, video and news updates to mainstream news outlets, many would argue they’re doing journalism.
But when bloggers comment on and link to news stories, is that journalism? Usually no — but it depends. When the blogger adds personal commentary that relies on original research, or if it is done by someone considered an authority on the subject, some would consider it journalism. Citizens become informed not by consuming information, but by interacting with others around information. It is the process of mutually influencing one another – interaction – that creates the condition of being informed. (Ryfe & Mensing)
Participatory journalism is an open-source, independent way of expressing one’s opinion, and it can be done, for instance through Blogs, forums, wikies… that report news and provide commentary and critical points of view, as well as deconstruct the mainstream media. It is a project that involves people from around the globe to interact, create, express and inform. Therefore, the simple citizen becomes a news reporter, from a normal user/consumer to becoming a producer. It seems that we are moving from journalism as “transmission of information” toward journalism as “participation”. That is to say, the new form of journalism challenges the old and traditional one. Not to forget that, traditional journalists are protected by the institutions they work with, and are well trained to provide real knowledge, whereas participatory journalists can easily provide subjective reflections of news or biased ones. That is to say, participatory journalism has a few flaws, such as lack of fairness, truth, accuracy and lack of professionalism. Despite the fact that it lacks some compulsory characteristics, I would still consider blogs to be a kind of journalism, in the sense that the users try to write about topics as they wish, maintaining a journalist-alike writing style.