Steve Outing asks:
"Do you think the terms "citizen journalism" or "citizen media" are the ones we should be using? I've been writing lots about the concepts of citizen journalism, and about the activities of pioneers in the field. But I can't say that I'm enamored yet with the term we seem to have settled on, even though I've used it often in my own writing."
He wonders if J.D. Lasica's term of "personal media" would work instead, adding "I like that term a little better than citizen journalism/media -- though perhaps it's not as descriptive."
I wrote about this here a few weeks ago when Bayosphere debuted
I've grown increasingly disconcerted by use of the term "citizen journalism," which seems to suggest that professional journalists -- those of us who do it for a living -- aren't citizens. Grassroots media works in some instances, as do a few other terms (including we-media, as in Dan's book "We The Media" ), but I'm going with "p2p media" or "peer media" for now.
I'm working on a project now for OJR and we will not be using "citizen journalism" as a term although, of course, we'll use it in quotes or in self-descriptions. Robert Niles expressed his frustration with the same issue in a recent OJR roundtable, casting his vote for "Dan Gillmor’s term, grassroots journalism. Why? Process of elimination, mostly." He explains:
"'Citizen' journalism implies that traditional journalists are somehow not citizens. Phooey. Professional journalists collectively care more about the quality and justice of their countries and communities than folks in many, if not most, other industries. 'Participatory' journalism makes me think of George Plimpton suiting up for the Detroit Lions.
'Reader-driven' journalism ignores the fact that journalism’s always been driven by readers. Edit a paper that readers don’t read and your publisher soon will ask you to find a new job.
'Community' journalism brings with it the baggage of what is also called “civic journalism,” an endeavor that has its passionate supporters, but that is not the same things as what we are discussing here. So why conflate the two?
That leaves me with 'grassroots' journalism, which gets to the point of what we’re doing -- allowing folks nearest the ground, if you will, to provide the news directly to other readers.
Maybe terminology is not important. But if we want our readers to care about their words in their work, I believe we should give careful thought to our words in describing their work."
I can live with grassroots but it doesn't get at the peer-to-peer qualities. I also don't think grassroots adequately describes journalism nurtured by newsrooms. Personal media may be about sharing personal media creations but when it's not neccessarily journalism. Personal journalism? Sounds like its a personalized home page.
Back to you, Steve.
Coda: Re changing minds about terms ... I suggested at BloggerCon III that "podcasting" might be an exclusionary term, leading people who didn't know about it to think it referred only to iPods. I also wondered if the term could draw the wrath of Steve. The response was instant and visceral: nothing could change minds about "podcasting" as the term and, besides, it wasn't really about iPods. (Say that 1,000 times and people will still believe iPods is the root word.) It had been in use only a few months but was already embedded in the consciousness of a vocal, active group -- and was already at the core of numerous business plans.