Citizen Reporter Stories
Original Article Published in
OhMyNews, South Korea
June 25, 2006
©2006 Gregory Daigle
In addition to being a citizen reporter, one of my long-term commitments is as Executive Director of the non-profit organization Digital Watershed. In October of 2005 we co-organized a conference with the University of Minnesota on the topic of the social impacts of citywide wireless networks. The conference featured speakers from the Wikimedia Foundation, Creative Commons, Walker Art Center and city governments planning wireless clouds in metropolitan areas.
I compiled notes from the speakers' presentations and from the break-out discussion groups concluding the conference. I wanted to summarize them and our discussion notes as a series of articles and publish them for the rest of the world to read. But where would I publish them?
I first learned of OhmyNews through a colleague, Nora Paul. Nora is the Director of the Institute for New Media Studies at the University of Minnesota's School of Journalism. The INMS studies digital journalism, storytelling and gaming. I've known Nora for years and sought her opinion on some of the better citizen journalist sites on the Web. She mentioned OhmyNews as a very well respected online site.
OhmyNews provided that opportunity to publish the articles as a three-part series entitled, "Why Wireless Cities Matter". That series led to another on gravity technology and several others addressing various technology topics. I'm happy to say that a recent story garnered over 50,000 views. Collaborating with OhmyNews has met and exceeded my expectations of the power of citizen reporters.
I live in the city of Minneapolis. We have a very vital local online news and discussion community. One site, E-Democracy, discusses issues of political and civic concern to local citizens. Online storytelling site Minnesota Stories tells local stories using video blogs (vblogs). And finally, Twin Cities Daily Planet is a citizen journalism site specifically for Minneapolis and its sister city St. Paul (the founder of TC Daily Planet was a speaker at last year's conference). However, despite these local opportunities most of my online efforts remain globally focused through OhmyNews.
What is OhmyNews' future? It was a founding organization of the citizen journalist movement. However, it is facing increasing competition from sites such as Newsvine, Gather, MSNBC, OurMedia and now a recent beta of Netscape. In additional to original story Web sites, news filter sites such as Digg (now newly redesigned), NowPublic, Blogmarks, reddit, Technorati and many others allow users to sort through these citizen stories, professional news stories and blogs. These filters add to the richness (and confusion) of the media, but also provide opportunities to expand the readership of all citizen journalist sites.
I encourage OhmyNews to work with these new filtering sites to help Web users more easily find OhmyNews stories of interest. Empower your editorial staff with the tools (Web stats, datamining, etc.) to better capture the attention of the filters and the "top posters" to the filter sites. Finally, assist your reporters in writing their stories in ways that will make them more visible to these top posters who have such influence on what is "linked to" on the Web. Do this and OhmyNews will continue in its position of leadership for many years to come.
©2006 Gregory Daigle
Bryan Nunez and moderator Amit Asaravala
©2006 Greg Daigle