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« 'Transparent Hearsay' | Main | 'Open Source' Radio Journalism »

January 21, 2005


Kent Bye

* Motivation seems to be a one critical factor -- Finding what gives people emotional significance in their lives and providing the tools and outlet for people to be able speak their minds.

* Aligning with independent filmmakers in communities to do novel investigative reporting -- Form local collectives of people who have film equipment to go out and get on-the-record interviews with government officials & bureaucrats and non-governmental watchdog groups.

* Education in traditional journalistic practices -- Send people through an online journalism 101 class or show them a film that teaches the basic principles of journalism.

I happen to be working on a documentary on the pre-war failings of the mainstream news media. I interviewed over 45 journalists and political insiders and I'm open sourcing the transcripts over at

Training people about journalism could happen through reading these interviews with journalists about the failures of the mainstream media leading up to the war in Iraq. It combines the emotionally-charged issue of war and how the media failed to be more skeptical towards institutional power due to their structural biases and "He Said / She Said" objectivity contraints.

This could be one way of providing an emotionally engaging context for learning about the principles of journalism, and they'll be able to start reporting within their local communities or even within power centers of the country -- as we did with The Echo Chamber


"Education and assistance to the former audience will be a piece of the enterprise I'm going to be creating"

The former audience is extremely grateful. Thank you Dan.

As for ideas -

Definitely the online J-101 class that Kent suggested.

An "ask the editor" discussion forum, where we could ask questions about all the sticky issues that normal reporters can take to their editor. At least one expert would be in attendance, although one's fellows could also chime in with advice if they wanted.
(perhaps this forum would be registration-only, or - as an option - maybe a time delay, before the exchange is made public; it's a bummer when the object of your research is reading over your shoulder)

Copy editor - MyMissourian enslaves J-school student copy editors to do the work; maybe we could find some underexploited group and do likewise?

An editor who can vet stories before they go up on the web and provide the skeptical reading that's needed to find the story's weak points.

It's strange - education is typically oriented toward acquiring credentials that can be parlayed into a "real job"; but for grassroots journalism, the value of a credential bestowed by the Enterprise would lie in the access that "grassroots guild" membership would provide, in terms of getting phone calls returned, etc.


Sorry about the italics.

Some resources:

American Press Institute's Reporting/Interviewing Techniques and Tools

Roy Peter Clark's Fifty Writing Tools (40 so far) - each(?) ends with a workshop, for the disciplined student. (the advantage of the online J-101 class is that the discipline comes more readily)

CopyDesk's Editing Guidelines - exercises, with answers; including editing bad writing, writing headlines, etc.

For beginners, the MIT Media Lab's Silver Stringers Journalism Tutorial - linked to by this Dec. 2003 OJR article ("MIT Media Lab Offers a Simple Recipe for Publishing Homegrown News")

The IRE (Investigative Reporters & Editors Association) appears to have a wealth of resources.
Blogger membership in IRE? According to the COIR ( Center for Online Investigative Research, which lacks a critical mass) bloggers can join IRE, but I'm not sure how - the IRE "Who can become a member" page doesn't list any membership category that would seem to encompass part-time bloggers.

via COIR, the NICAR (National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting) 'Net Tour ( Making effective use of the Internet | Finding and cultivating sources | The public's right to records | Paper trails, documents and data you need | Investigating government | Investigating businesses and nonprofits | Help on your beat and other links for journalists | Continuing your training )

On paper, The Investigative Reporter's Handbook and other tomes from Poynter's Investigative Reporting Bibliography


Now they should be fixed. (needed a couple of /i tags, not /em tags)


Have you read the ghastly piece in the CJR that basically blames news consumers for becoming too stupu=id over the last few years to read newspapers? You should, it's pathetic.


Thanks for the link Jenny. As a teenager I recall being frightened by the notion that people were too apathetic to respond to politics, a claim that was made in the newspapers in the mid 70s over and over again in this country - That said, it is all too easy for people to get on the blower and whinge to a radio station in Australia instead of writing a letter or joining a political party ( heaven forbid - yet this is a country where voting is compulsory). An important part of returning political discourse to Gillmor's 'former audience' is to encourage re-engagement at all levels, from speech right through to political action - let's hope the online grassroots movement becomes just that.

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