Citizen action: partnering with conventional news media
Citizen groups and citizen journalists are addressing social problems around the world. But they may still need traditional news organizations to help tell their stories.
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Journalists face an enormous challenge making sense of all this activity. What does it signify? What are the most important ideas and models? How will it change politics and business? And what are the new demands that it will place on people who are growing up amid continuous, bottom-up, mass-driven change, rather than top-down, stable institutions run by few?Skip to next paragraph
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Once the general public understands these answers and grasps the full scope of this movement, it will have much more capacity to engage with it. People need to understand these changes to know what to study, what careers to pursue, what policies to support, what to invest in, and – most of all – how to educate today's children so they can thrive in an ever-changing environment.
To create this broad picture, journalists need to combine traditional storytelling with data analysis and the use of pro-am platforms (systems that combine media from both citizens and professional journalists). Today, we create more information in two days than we did from the "dawn of man" to 2003. Not to mention that data gives organizations and stories credibility; and with solution journalism, we're interested not only in ideas, but also in idea implementation: what works, what doesn't, and why?
Social sector, meet civic media
Conveniently, data and pro-am were prevalent themes of this years’ Knight News Challenge – particularly how to amass and curate information to make it useful and comprehensible.
The Panda Project, Overview, and The Public Laboratory, for example, help journalists find the stories within the data. The Public Laboratory, proposed by The Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science, will build a platform for citizen-based, grass-roots data gathering. Brian Boyer and The Chicago Tribune’s PANDA, along with Jonathan Stray and the AP’s Overview, will build tools to help journalists sift through existing data to identify relationships and stories.