Wednesday, March 21, 2007

"Messy and wonderful"

That is how Dan Gillmor charactizes the state of Citizen Media tonight at the Mid-Peninsula Community Media Center. The long-time blogger and ex-columnist for the San Jose Mercury News now runs the Center for Citizen Media.

Dan touched on the history of the newspaper industry as an example of the changing landscape of journalism and said that for the past 40 years it has been dependent on monopolization. "It was previously bad business to annoy half of your audience."

But the traditional journalism business models are quickly eroding. The product is no longer printed on presses that cost $50-75 million. The competition that previously existed in journalism is much less significant today than the present race for ad dollars. We are struggling to encourage local coverage, which is playing a very important role in the value of community knowledge. Investigative and in-depth reporting sites and those adding value to content like newassignment.net, Witness.org, and dotSUB.com are also key to keeping some structure in place and continuing quality journalism. This discussion on citizen media attracted its own "random acts of journalism," a term Mr. Gillmor uses.

I have been part of Ourmedia.org since last May, which today celebrates its 2nd birthday. Happy Birthday! Two years ago J.D. Lasica and Marc Canter approached Brewster Kale, founder of the Internet Archive, to open the Archive's media repository to user-generated content. This turned out to be a popular idea and Ourmedia.org now enables a widely-available library of deep-tagged media, hosted for free. The content is copyright-indicated so people can use them in their own works if you say so. Ourmedia.org's library includes articles about how to use materials.

What's okay to use and what isn't? What do the different licenses mean? How do you strip out or add audio to a podcast or video? Ourmedia.org answers these questions. Ourmedia.org also sports a peer-to-peer file sharing application from Outhink Media you can use to create all kinds of things called SpinXpress. With SpinXpress you can set up private groups and share large files from one computer to another (without uploading it somewhere else first or emailing large files). These image, sound and video files are almost always huge so it solves a big problem. Plus you can publish to multiple locations, including . The Internet Archive is a really nice clean place to showcase your media too. Here a few pieces I published there. Ourmedia.org is also about to relaunch it's site with a Drupal upgrade, which will improve the user interface and extensibility of the service.

What else to expect in the future from these new media experts?

Dan and J.D. are about to launch a project at the Center for Citizen Media centered around "principles of journalism" which includes topics such as story accuracy, fairness and transparency. Check out the media center for ongoing projects and courses you can take to learn more about video production and editing and more.
When tonight's audience was asked why they came to Dan Gillmor's discussion, a member with a philosophy background said, "I want to change the world."

Let's continue with a common goal of better journalism, encouraging the diligence of formal reporting and working too with the spontaneous, creative nature of citizen-generalted media. Some pictures courtesy of Jeff Schwartz are posted on Flickr.

Related items:

http://www.communitymediacenter.net
http://www.archive.org
http://www.ourmedia.org
http://www.citmedia.org
http://www.metacafe.com
http://www.wikipedia.org (my home page is currently set to this page on the Wikipedia.org site and learn something every day)
http://www.newsvine.com
http://www.blip.tv
http://parr.org