Citizen journalism

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    • 00:05

      [Citizen Journalism]

    • 00:10

      DR. VINCENT CAMPBELL: Hello.My name is Dr. Vincent Campbell, [Dr. Vincent Campbell, SeniorLecturrer, Department of Media and Communications,University of Leicester], senior lecturerin the Department of Media and Communicationat the University of Leicester.Today, I'm going to present a casestudy on citizen journalism.[Are we all journalists now ?]Citizen journalism is one of the most prominent areas

    • 00:31

      DR. VINCENT CAMPBELL [continued]: of development and debate and discussionin contemporary journalism practice and scholarship.One of the key areas around scholarshipon citizen journalism is the relationshipbetween a whole range of new practices usingnew media technologies, such as weblogs, Facebook, Twitterand YouTube, to reduce, report upon, comment

    • 00:54

      DR. VINCENT CAMPBELL [continued]: on, and distribute a huge variety of reportingand commentary and user output.Where most of this scholarship is centeredis on a central question-- are we all journalists now?On one part of this debate are scholars such as Scott Gantin his book "We're All Journalists Now" [Gant, 2007],who argued quite clearly that technologies enable anybody who

    • 01:17

      DR. VINCENT CAMPBELL [continued]: is minded to to engage in the production of journalism.On the other hand along the continuum of positions,is a view from some scholars and quite a lotof professional journalists that thisisn't the case, that in fact journalismis a specific set of professional practicesthat requires training, professional competency

    • 01:39

      DR. VINCENT CAMPBELL [continued]: skills--[Not everyone has the skills]--and knowledge that large numbersof the ordinary population do not have.What I want to argue is that most of the debate so farin citizen journalism scholarshiphas been journalism-centered.[Journalism-centred]It is all about to what extent are these practices journalism.And the citizenship element of citizen journalism

    • 01:60

      DR. VINCENT CAMPBELL [continued]: isn't really critiqued.To cite one author on these issues, for instance,Safran a decade ago said, "We're all citizens, but notall of us are journalists".I want to unpack that a little bit today by asking,what does citizenship and citizen in the label citizenjournalism actually mean?[Journalism not citizenship?]

    • 02:25

      DR. VINCENT CAMPBELL [continued]: The first thing to do before discussing citizenshipin detail is to establish further how citizen journalismscholarship tends to be journalism-centeredrather than citizen-centered.Let me give an example.A recent study in the UK looking at what is sometimes called"hyper-local journalism" demonstrates how the idea

    • 02:48

      DR. VINCENT CAMPBELL [continued]: of citizens-- what they do, how they function in relationto journalism-- is treated as an assumption.[Citizenship assumed]We know what that means.We know what that involves.And it's the journalism aspect where the debate lies.So for instance, in that study a couple of years ago,one scholar commented "it's much more fruitful

    • 03:10

      DR. VINCENT CAMPBELL [continued]: if you look at them and simply see citizensdoing what citizens do.It might happen to look a bit like what journalistsdo-- but they have a completely different motivation."[Booth in Radclifee, 2012, 10]So here we see again an assumptionthat we know what citizens are, we know how citizens function,and that's OK.That we can take for granted.

    • 03:31

      DR. VINCENT CAMPBELL [continued]: I find this particularly problematic.To illustrate this further, I wantto talk a bit about a specific case, Tim Pool of the OccupyWall Street Movement in 2011.Tim Pool live-broadcast the event by his mobile phoneand streamed it over the web.Commentators on his web page gave him ideas and instructionsfor where to point his camera, who to interview,

    • 03:53

      DR. VINCENT CAMPBELL [continued]: and what kinds of questions to ask him.Jay Rosen, a leading American scholarand author of the Pressthink bloghad to say about Tim Pool in a discussionabout the relationship between Pool's activitiesand journalism.He said, "Tim Pool is clearly an activist and supporterof Occupy Wall Street as well as a reporter of it.

    • 04:15

      DR. VINCENT CAMPBELL [continued]: If you believe those things can't possiblygo together, fine, I know where you're coming from.But don't expect me to freak out or even care that youwouldn't call Pool a journalist."[Rosen, 2011] The concern of Rosen's comment here--and of others in the discussion on his blog--is over Pool's status as a journalist and notas a citizen.That, again, is presumed.

    • 04:36

      DR. VINCENT CAMPBELL [continued]: All of the debate-- and this is a typical example--is focused on, what is the nature of journalism going onhere; can ordinary people do it; if activistsare doing it and protesters doing it, is that journalismor is it something distinctive?None of this is focused on what itmeans to be a citizen, whether Tim Pool's activity is

    • 04:56

      DR. VINCENT CAMPBELL [continued]: typical of citizen activity, or something exceptional.A second problem that we see hereis what I would call a presumption of universality,the idea that because this technology is so widespreadnow, that anyone can do this.Anyone can be a citizen journalist.In fact, a number of scholars have pointed out

    • 05:17

      DR. VINCENT CAMPBELL [continued]: that, when you look at some of the leadingexamples and the most prominent instances of citizen journalismpractice, it's being conducted by a kind of verylimited, privileged minority group of people, many of whomhave access to very specific skills.For instance, Salam Pax, [Salam Pax, Iraq War blogger]the famous Baghdad blogger during the first Iraq war,

    • 05:39

      DR. VINCENT CAMPBELL [continued]: was a translator working for Western media,one of the reasons his blog got noticed and gradually becamemore widely-disseminated.But also, had been educated in Europe,could speak and write English in a highly fluent manner,and represented a very narrow group of peoplewithin the Iraqi conflict.That's one of the reasons why it became such an important blog.

    • 06:01

      DR. VINCENT CAMPBELL [continued]: He was able to articulate concernsfrom a very specific perspective.So the problem here-- one of the problemshere-- is that the journalism question iskind of overshadowing the question of whothe individuals are who are producing these blogs,and are they, in fact, ordinary citizens, or are there otherattributes we need to look at.

    • 06:22

      DR. VINCENT CAMPBELL [continued]: [The problem of citizenship]OK.So having established that citizen journalism scholarshipis focused very much on the journalism,why might that be a problem? [Citizen Journalism justa convenient label ?] Why isn't it just a convenient label,for instance?Other labels have been used.Accidental journalism, or participatory journalism,

    • 06:45

      DR. VINCENT CAMPBELL [continued]: for instance.But citizen journalism has become the labelthat's become most prominent.Some colleagues of mine have said,it's just a convenient label.It covers such a wide range of concepts,a wide range of practices, there's no real meaning to it.But I would argue that that's not really the case.Citizenship, as Derek Heater says,a leading scholar of citizenship within political science,

    • 07:07

      DR. VINCENT CAMPBELL [continued]: citizenship "is more than a label--identity and virtue invest the concept of citizenship withpower." [Heater, 2004, 187]Now I would argue, therefore, that the label citizenjournalism offers explicit normative assertionsabout those practices.This isn't really just a convenient label.A lot of the scholars are signalling,

    • 07:29

      DR. VINCENT CAMPBELL [continued]: by using this term, a normative value.That this is a good thing, that it's presenting somethingthat's adding to and contributingto society and politics, particularlydemocratic politics and democratisation.But what it doesn't really acknowledgeis that citizenship-- [Citzenshipas a contingent concept] is a contingent concept.As Keith Faulks, another prominent political scientist,

    • 07:51

      DR. VINCENT CAMPBELL [continued]: has said, "as citizenship is about human relationships,it defies a simple, static definitionthat can be applied to all societies at all times.Instead, the idea of citizenship is inherently contestedand contingent, always reflecting the particular setof relationships and types of governance found within any

    • 08:14

      DR. VINCENT CAMPBELL [continued]: given society." [Faulks, 2000: 6]Now I would argue there are three prominent variationsof this liberal democratic paradigm at work in citizenjournalism literature.Firstly, we have the kind of classical ideaof the so-called "informed citizen".In this model-- traditional model of journalism and citizen

    • 08:35

      DR. VINCENT CAMPBELL [continued]: relationships-- journalism is something that is for citizens.The role of journalists is to provide informationso that citizens-- in democratic states, anyway--can make informed choices and decisions about whoto vote for, when to protest, when to comply with the laws,and so on.Now one of the problems with this classical position

    • 08:57

      DR. VINCENT CAMPBELL [continued]: is that, in empirical terms, it isn't really what's going on.If you look at mature, developed Western democracieslike the United Kingdom or the USA,there is a significant portion of the populationthat routinely doesn't bother to vote.It's around a third of the populationin recent general elections in the UKand presidential elections in the US.

    • 09:19

      DR. VINCENT CAMPBELL [continued]: And also, over the last 20 to 30 years or so,we've seen significant declines in public attentionto mainstream news.Particularly in newspapers, but also increasinglyon radio and television.And even though there has been a marked shifttowards online news media, this hasn't compensated that muchfor a declining audience for mainstream news.

    • 09:40

      DR. VINCENT CAMPBELL [continued]: So this is a model which is kind of sort of disappearing.One reason, many scholars say, isbecause it's kind of idealized.No real democratic system actuallysits there dutifully paying attention to all of the newsall of the time to try and inform themselvesto make sure they know what they're doing.It's not a very realistic model of how citizens operate.

    • 10:03

      DR. VINCENT CAMPBELL [continued]: Now one model that has been developed to respond to thispractical problem is Michael Schudson's idea of MonitorialCitizenship [Schudson, 1998].What he argues is that contemporary citizenscan't be expected to fulfill this ideal of paying attentionto every important issue, every news mediaoutlet, and every political event going.

    • 10:25

      DR. VINCENT CAMPBELL [continued]: They just can't do it.It's unrealistic.Instead, what citizens do is they kind of pick and choosewhich events and which issues to monitor,and when it's something of importance to them, thatengages them, then they contributein terms of political activity and paying attentionto the news.Now one problem, I think, for using this model

    • 10:47

      DR. VINCENT CAMPBELL [continued]: to explain citizen journalism is that citizen journalismis about producing news, not just receivingit and responding to it, but actively producing contentand disseminating it to others.If monitorial citizenship is thereas an explanation for those people whodon't seem to engage in the news as audiences,

    • 11:08

      DR. VINCENT CAMPBELL [continued]: never mind as producers, and those people whodon't vote very often if ever at all,it seems quite a stretch to then use this modelto explain citizens like Tim Pool doing thingsway beyond the average citizen.The third version, or variation, of this liberal democraticparadigm stems from John Hartley's work [DIY Citizenship

    • 11:30

      DR. VINCENT CAMPBELL [continued]: (Hartley, 1999)] and focuses around the idea of DIYcitizenship, or sometimes "do it with others"-- DIWO--citizenship.In this idea, Hartley suggests that contemporary citizenscan construct this sense of citizen identityand their citizen practices in a number of different ways.It doesn't have to be through traditional practices

    • 11:53

      DR. VINCENT CAMPBELL [continued]: such as voting, or belonging to a political party,or belonging to a trade union, or protesting.That in fact journalism, citizen journalism,may be a route through which some citizens feelthat they are exercising their sense of selfand their political and civic identity.One problem with all of these, including this last model,

    • 12:14

      DR. VINCENT CAMPBELL [continued]: is that they make assumptions about the freedom of citizensaround the world to be doing these kinds of practices, whenin reality, of course, some people,when engaging these activities, are putting themselvesat severe risk of jail, of being flogged in some countries,or possibly even being killed.So this doesn't really address the fact

    • 12:35

      DR. VINCENT CAMPBELL [continued]: that that liberal democratic paradigm doesn't necessarilyapply to citizens of different countriesand different political contexts.[Locating the citizen]So how can we start to begin to think about problematizingcitizenship?

    • 12:56

      DR. VINCENT CAMPBELL [continued]: One way is to think about how can we locate the citizen.I mean in some senses, citizenship is a legal status.Somebody in a particular country with a passport, perhaps,and people have that sense of it.But conceptually, it's kind of more problematic.How a citizen of, say, the United States or the United

    • 13:17

      DR. VINCENT CAMPBELL [continued]: Kingdom or China or Saudi Arabia is thought aboutis actually quite different conceptually in howit operates in practice.So in empirical terms, the paradigm of citizenshipis not universal.To quote John Hartley, who kind of acknowledged this within hismodel of DIY citizenship, he says,"the very idea of [citizenship] is refuted in some

    • 13:40

      DR. VINCENT CAMPBELL [continued]: jurisdictions, e.g. in theocratic states like SaudiArabia and Iran where sovereignty is said to residein the deity not the citizen; in Party-controlled ones likeChina, which recognise 'nationality' not'citizenship'; and in some philosophies,such as Marxism and feminism, where subjectivity isdetermined by class or identity not ethno-territorial descent."

    • 14:03

      DR. VINCENT CAMPBELL [continued]: [Hartley, 2010, 235]So Hartley does acknowledge this,and other scholars have, too, but it's oftenleft out of citizen journalism debates quite a lot.And in fact, what it means to be a citizen is quite different,even if the practices of, for instance, producing a weblogis quite similar, the actual activity that is engaged in.

    • 14:23

      DR. VINCENT CAMPBELL [continued]: So just because there are bloggers in Baghdad and Beijingand Boston, doesn't necessarily mean that, in civic terms,in citizenship terms, they're doing the same things.Now one way to begin to understand this a bit betteris actually to focus on partial or non-citizens in democracies.

    • 14:44

      DR. VINCENT CAMPBELL [continued]: For instance, we can focus on particular professions,like the police.Bloggers like Night Jack, winner of the George Orwellaward a few years ago, have been quite prominent in producingpolice-oriented blogs that cover legal and political issuesin relation to policing.But they run a fine line of contempt of court,and giving away too much information about the cases

    • 15:07

      DR. VINCENT CAMPBELL [continued]: that they work on.And one or two have fallen afoul of this.At the other end of the legal system,we can also think about prisoners, for instance.There have been debates in the UKrecently about whether prisoners should have access to media,never mind being able to produce it.But some scholars have looked at prisonersin other countries being given access to media-- beingable to produce prison radio, for instance--

    • 15:29

      DR. VINCENT CAMPBELL [continued]: and discussed this in terms of how does this operate in termsof their access to citizenship.After all, prisoners, by the factthat they've committed crimes and have been convictedof crimes, have been denied certain attributesof citizenship.Their freedom to move around, for instance.So what does it say about their rolesif they can use citizen journalism?

    • 15:50

      DR. VINCENT CAMPBELL [continued]: Another group, an even greyer area,would be immigrants and asylum-seekers.Those seeking to become citizens of particular states,but without that status.How might they use journalism?And if they do so, how might citizenshipbe being invoked through the way they use journalism.And lastly, we could talk about other groups,like children, who have some rights-- the rights of freedom

    • 16:13

      DR. VINCENT CAMPBELL [continued]: of speech and the ability to produce blogsin democratic states-- but of course, up until they're 18,can't vote.Of course, once we start talking about non-democratic statesand people living in them-- the denizens and citizens of them--again, we can expand this problem of whatdo we mean by the citizen.

    • 16:34

      DR. VINCENT CAMPBELL [continued]: Some scholars-- a colleague of mine,Sarah Gong of the University of Leicester, for instance--has talked about 'contracted citizens' in China[Gong, 2010], in the sense that Chinese citizens doincreasingly use the Internet and social media toolsto produce their own citizen journalism,but there are certain issues and topics which they know thereare limits on them being able to talk about.

    • 16:56

      DR. VINCENT CAMPBELL [continued]: And the idea of the contract is that they havecertain rights but not others.So they can use Weibo to discuss political issues,but they don't have political voting rights, for instance.So it's a different context in which they're operating.One could also look at different groups within non-democraticstates such as Saudi Arabia--[Women in Saudi Arabia]

    • 17:17

      DR. VINCENT CAMPBELL [continued]: --where men are able to vote in a limited wayand participate in political decision-making,but women aren't, at least at the current time.And lastly, we can talk about those citizen journalists,often the most prominent ones-- like Salam Pax,I mentioned earlier-- who Zuckerman has called'bridge-bloggers' [Zuckerman, 2008],these people who are citizens of one country,

    • 17:38

      DR. VINCENT CAMPBELL [continued]: but producing content that is aimed outwards at internationalaudiences.How do they occupy a particular position of citizenship,and how does that impact on the kind of journalismthey produce.[Citizenship not journalism?]What should be evident by now, then,

    • 17:59

      DR. VINCENT CAMPBELL [continued]: is that citizenship isn't a straightforward concept.And in fact, it's as complicated as the debatesaround journalism.But we can add another step to this,to suggest that it's citizenship that weshould be thinking about arguably more than journalism.If we return to mainstream professional journalists,

    • 18:20

      DR. VINCENT CAMPBELL [continued]: what's to say that they're not enacting their citizenship,as well?Why is it we have to assume that thereis mainstream journalism, on the one hand,and citizen journalism on the other?I want to quote Guy Berger, who'sdone some research on South African citizen journalism.And he had this to say, which I think is very important.'Employment by a media house does not cancel out

    • 18:42

      DR. VINCENT CAMPBELL [continued]: a consciousness of citizenship.The logic here then is that both employed journalistsand outsiders can, in the sense, alsobe regarded as practitioners of "citizen journalism".The other side of the argument here is that one cannot assumethat an individual producing public content is necessarilya "citizen" in either fact or consciousness.'

    • 19:06

      DR. VINCENT CAMPBELL [continued]: In other words, he's saying, well,that traditional distinction between journalism beingfor citizenship and the idea of citizen journalismas citizenship is problematic.It doesn't really easily provide a distinctionbetween mainstream professional journalismand what, supposedly, ordinarily citizens

    • 19:27

      DR. VINCENT CAMPBELL [continued]: are doing on the other hand.What we need to do instead is thinkabout the nature of what he callsa consciousness of citizenship is being appliedby journalists, whether they're mainstreamjournalists or so-called citizen journalists.[Conclusion]

    • 19:49

      DR. VINCENT CAMPBELL [continued]: What can we conclude, then, from this discussion?First of all, I would say that the citizenshipcontext must be included in evaluationof citizen journalism.And at the moment, this is largely missingfrom much contemporary citizen journalism research.It's a real area that needs development.Secondly, citizenship is a dynamic concept,

    • 20:11

      DR. VINCENT CAMPBELL [continued]: and producers of citizen journalismoccupy multiple and problematic citizen positionsthat need to be incorporated in research and analysis.And finally, there is no reason to presumethat their positions relative to journalism-- howeverthat is conceived-- will be any more straightforward.So to really understand what is going on in citizen journalism,

    • 20:35

      DR. VINCENT CAMPBELL [continued]: we need to unpack and discuss and engagewith both citizenship and journalism in combination.

Citizen journalism

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Dr. Vincent Campbell discusses the concept of citizen journalism and how thinking on this topic often overlooks assumptions about what it means to be a citizen.

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Citizen journalism

Dr. Vincent Campbell discusses the concept of citizen journalism and how thinking on this topic often overlooks assumptions about what it means to be a citizen.

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