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Session 2: Best of Both Worlds (Part 1) December 10, 2005

Posted by delal in GV05, Session 2.
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Much is made of the “blogging vs. journalism” argument. We believe there can and must be room for both in this world, and that the world will be better for having both. In this session we explore the potential for synergies between professional journalists and citizen-bloggers. How do journalists and bloggers interact in the world outside the US and Europe? How can bloggers become journalists and journalists become bloggers? How do the two learn to work together and respect each other? How can we combine the value of professional journalism with the power of citizens’ online conversation to help all members of the human race understand each other better?

Led by Rebecca MacKinnon, with input from Jeff Ooi (Malaysia), Ndesanjo Macha (Tanzania), Dina Mehta (India), Georgia Popplewell (Trinidad & Tobago), David Sasaki (Americas Editor), Onnik Krikorian (Armenia), Ben Parmann (Eurasia Blog), Lisa Goldman (Israel), and Dean Wright (Reuters)

The session begins (besides a few lunch announcements) with a videoconference with Dean Wright from Reuters (via flickr)
He gives a brief introduction of himself: (paraphrasing from the transcript) “I started with Reuters bringing global material to a consumer audience. This is an area where many networks in the US have dropped the ball on recently. There is a good fit with Global Voices, which has a similar interest to Reuters in bringing international news to a US audience. Recently with the penetration of broadband paper media and old broadcast outlets aren’t the only game in town and that kind of media isn’t going to work for most of the world. As trust in the media has declined recently, it makes sense for us to want to reverse that trust. Bloggers have seen themselves as holding big media to account and I think that is true, I think it has happened. I don’t think that the Jason Boyer scandel would have happened nearly so quickly if it hadn’t been for bloggers holding MSN’s feet to the fire. So we at Reuter’s are very interested in working with the people of Global Voices.”

Mike is handed back to Rebecca MacKinnon: “Thank you for letting us use your facilities. Before I open this up, (Dean feel free to jump in) I’m often asked, are you guys trying to displace, to become an alternative news agency? Doing journalism, citizen journalism, what are you? Are you doing news in a different way, or something different? I tend to refer to what we are doing as citizen-media, rather than citizen journalism necessarily. I think that there are some peoplem who are watching the news and there are lots of people uses to reading most of their news from the computer. I’d like to hear your persceptives on this. Different people have different perspectives on how you feel, what you do with blogging, how is this the same or different from what pros are doing? Have you interacted with professional media? How might professional media? How might Global Voices help facilitate a more productive interaction? The reason I went into journalism was to inform the public, for people to be free and self-governing, people need to have control over their lives, and to know who to vote for. This is why many people go into journalism and why many of us are blogging. Most of us want to have a more intellectual global discourse and inform our fellow citizens. Professional and bloggers have a lot of the same ideas. I think that its a good opportunity here to have a good conversation about how we further that aim from different sides. With the professionals being paid to so the objective thing to go track down facts, and us helping people get into the stories of various countries and get persceptives from the ground level. I want to start with Dina Metha, a very well known indian blogger, and a global blogger, who has been instrumental in tsunanmi blogging efforts, and earthquake blogging. The tsunami blogging was an example of the synergy that happens between citizen media and interaction between the professional media. I would love you to talk about what you think worked and what didn’t and what our community might do to help make things work better in the future.”


Dina Mehta talking about how blogging helped during disaster relief efforts (via flickr)

Dina:I don’t know who knows bout the tsunami blog. Many of us in bombay we’d never met, but were feeling helpless sitting at home and couldn’t just pack up and go down to the affected regions… so we just said let’s do a blog. We didn’t know what we wanted to do. Within hours, we had hundreds of people writing and translating. We wanted anyone to put in a post from the affected reasons, in real time, real voices; by the end of day 1 we had 200 people volunteering and doing stuff. We used blogger, very basic platform, which was good; there were people who had never blogged. They were able to do it, there were really no entry barriers b/c of that. We of course then translated things to a wiki; with a post everything gets lost in the archives; and building news and info around – bridging people ho had help to offer with those who needed help. that’s the basic use of the wiki. This is one of the experiences that changed my life; I believe these are tools that bring in so much empathy, and I really mean empathy; it’s not some tv telling you about some region you know nothing about; we had people sending ups sms messages from the ground; we out them up immediately; pictures we put up. Also interesting: as with groups and people working together there will be tensions; people who say “let’s make it an ngo, make something bigger out of it”. Some of us resisted that thought; we said, we’ve got a model that works; we used it when katrina struck again; and started innovating around it with katrina we started setting up skype lines…I was setting up something in bombay, neha was setting up something… we covered the whole spectrum of 24 hours (london, berlin?) People believed there was a voice they could talk to; we were pointing them to paces on line; we weren’t the [original sources] but we were trusted and could point them…if you want to call it activism, sort of like a movement – it could happen in next to no time at all, using technologies s like blogs, wikis votelephiny, even im. It’s like a ?society, at the margin; there was no ceo, no cioo, people said “do you want to donate bandwidth? where are you going to donate the bw to?” and there were people keeping telling us that no, we should have an organization, we should.. but the beauty and magic was of the way it was and worldchanging and boingboing – that’s when the traditonal media came in; when we had bbc and nyt coming in; we had interviews with indian media much later; which was sad. They had no clue of what was going on; just a website which was collecting stuff that was a turning point of sorts in the indian media. neha correct me if I’m wrong; but almost every week there are a couple articles about blogs now, more than just online journal articles.”

Rebecca MacKinnon: Thanks. If we could pass the mike to Georgia, put you on the spot here


“We play cricket in a different style, so should we blog in a different style” – Georgia Popplewell (via flickr)
Georgia – The caribbean is an unusual place to cover. There are 15 different regions to cover… always diff issues. My roundups are a bit fragmented; it’s also a region where the press is some much… the press is not so much free as not lazy…there isn’t massive censorship; just people not saying things in journalism with relationships with people in power, as throughout the world. So it’s sill a very young blogosphere; a long time until it becomes mature. Trinidad, for instance… free wifi… there’s a burgeoning growth in radio and television. There are certain key bloggers, a lot of whom are in Trinidad, now doing pretty serious citizen -journalism. Well, a few; and people who write easily about things. The other day I appeared on tv; there hadn’t been a whole lot of coverage about blogging in the local press; one of the magazines I write for has done things b/c those people are more interested; but the other day : called form a long-standing journo to appear on tv, to coincide w/the week we qualified for the world cup 🙂 I sensed I was there out of obligation for variety; but I had to remind him that he had quoted a blogger about football. Certainly if more people could write seriously the journalistic communities would certainly [cover it?] I’ve noticed since I started rounding up the Caribbean for Global Voices, that people start to change things; since they know that I’ll ink to them if they cover certain things that alone has shifted things. I’m one of a few Caribbean podcasters.. I find the whole idea of use (of blogs?) in other areas…b/c of the ideas I’m trying to get attraction for, audio in education…still has limited appeal… a government school. You wouldn’t use a blog to communicate with the parents. it’s at least not a case of “we’re not going to do it!” just that it doesn’t seem to apply now…I think the journalists, once they realize the blogosphere is a source, they will leap on it; they are overworked. If they can get help with research etc they certainly would. The people I link to in the caribbeab all share globalvoices from the time I link; they often either mention or remention; there’s a kind of evangelism brewing certainly among bloggers. the fact that people know they’re being heard makes people step up and realize they should be more thorough, etc. My 3d or 4th post was about the blogosphere, which brought in a number of feelings among people; they though it was saying that all blogs should be political, which is not the case but in a way it was good b/c it caused people to react.

Tagged: gv2005, globalvoices)

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