Community journalism

A vitual lesson from Citizens’ Eye
This is the fourth semester when I deliver my New Media course at Katho but up until this month the lecture on community media and citizen journalism was perhaps the most abstract one. Although my students and I explore and question every semester the role of journalism and media organizations within our “home societies”, hospital discuss our expectations from traditional and new media journalism and analyze Outing’s 11 layers of citizen journalism, click without a real-life, working example the lecture remains within the theoretical realm. This semester however, things improved considerably since John Coster, the founder and Managing Editor of Citizens’ Eye, a Leicester based community news agency website, has agreed to meet with us.

John joined us this morning via Skype from the Pheonix Square Digital Media Centre in Leicester. He talked about Citizens’ Eye, its focus, its area of coverage, its model for reporting and its achievements, one of them being their collaboration with local newspapers. John also talked about the differences between traditional and community journalism, among them being the latter’s preference for good and inspirational news. John also stressed on the hyperlocality of the project, the volunteer work and their in-depth knowledge of the beats and communities they covered as well as on the necessity of using all the resources available in a city, such as libraries, study areas, meeting points, wi-fi spots, to the maximum. I found John’s energy contagious and his example a true success story and judging from the students’ reaction they found it too.

In terms of technology, since most of them are acquainted with Skype, I tried to bring something new. Thus, I created a twitter chat room on Today’s Meet under the class’ hastag (kathonm) which enabled all of us to follow the discussion but also allows me to save it and archive it for later.  This is particularly useful when wanting to track discussions that take place among students on the topic of the guest lecture or among the students and the guest lecturer. However, in both situations the hashtag needs to be maintained. This can be achieved either by adding it to the message if tweeting from Twitter or other platform or using the Twitter Chatroom created for this purpose.

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Thanks for invitation. It’s good to share the story of the Citizens Eye Community News Agency because after 2.5 years it still excites me that we have not even begun to explore the true potential of networked journalism – professionals working with hyperlocal amateurs to create a new type of news – positive about people & places. Enjoy rest of course. John C

[…] wrote in about John Coster’s talk, from Citizens’ Eye, in a previous post. His stories made the abstracts concepts of citizen and community journalism that I presented […]

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