The changing role of journalists in a world where everyone can publish

Ok, so possibly not the snappiest title I’ve ever written, but it does rather sum up the contents of the white paper that I wrote for the Freedom of Expression Project and which is now online on their site. Here’s the intro:

Citizen journalism – when the general public investigate, fact-check and publish news stories – is changing the face of news. The historic role of gatekeeper, played until now by professional journalists, is obsolete. But new technology and increased civic participation are creating new opportunities for the mainstream media, and three key roles are emerging:

1. Investigation – traditional in-depth investigative journalism made more transparent by publishing research and references.
2. Curation – collecting trustworthy links and synthesising an informed and succinct overview of a story.
3. Facilitation – working with the community to help people publish stories important to them.

I was invited to speak about citizen journalism and blogging at a conference that the project’s organisers held in Manchester a few months ago, mainly to journalists and human rights activists from countries such as Croatia, Bosnia, Nigeria and Lebanon. It was a fascinating experience, one which I meant to blog but never found the time to.

The upshot was that Global Partners, who are running the project on behalf of the Ford Foundation, asked me to write this paper in order to elaborate on the ideas I discussed back in November 06 about the need for online curators.

Unlike some, I don’t think that citizen journalism is going to replace traditional journalism, but rather that journalists are going to have to adapt to take into account the needs of not just their readers, but also their community and the citizen journalists alongside whom they work. Things are changing, for sure, the interesting question is how!

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