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Dan Gillmor: The Rough Road to Citizen Journalism

Posted by: Rob Hof on January 24, 2006

Dan Gillmor finally offers an explanation of what’s happening (or, more lamentably, not happening) at his citizen journalism venture, Bayosphere. He’s got a raft of reasons why the site hasn’t taken off, and they’re something of a laundry list of what it will take for any such ventures to succeed.

Most of all, I think there’s value in clear organization and compelling presentation, both for the reader and for the contributor. That includes some kind of more active spur to involvement, such as more specific RSS feeds or even email notifications when material readers/contributors are interested in gets posted. From there—and as Dan notes, with better incentives for participation—a coherent community can emerge. While I found the idea of Bayosphere interesting, the material there never jelled into the sort of resource that I expected of something with as broad a self-described mandate as “of, by and for the Bay Area.” As a result, I didn’t contribute nearly as much as I might have expected. As Dan notes:

Citizen journalists need and deserve active collaboration and assistance. They want some direction and a framework, including a clear understanding of what the site’s purpose is and what tasks are required. (I didn’t do nearly a good enough job in this area.)

Glad to see, however, that Dan’s still on the case for citizen journalism in his new role as director for the Center for Citizen Media. Sure seems like there are real possibilities for some new and compelling kinds of media to emerge.

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