Nieman Foundation at Harvard
HOME
          
LATEST STORY
Patreon is helping The Asheville Blade connect directly with readers — and skip over advertisers entirely
ABOUT                    SUBSCRIBE
Dec. 18, 2008, 6:26 p.m.

Citizen media: Not there yet

My Harvard colleague Persephone Miel unveiled the results of months of labor (hers and her associates’) today: an in-depth evaluation of how far along “participatory media” — bloggers, citizen journalists, et cetera — are in complementing (or replacing) traditional Big Media. Her answer, if I may sum up 168 pages in a sentence: It’s just not there yet. Maybe some day. (I think she’s dead on.)

If you want more than a sentence but less than 168 pages, here’s how she summarizes her findings:

Participatory media is great, has lots of potential. But it’s not doing everything we have counted on journalism institutions to do and, left to its own devices, it never will. Those journalism institutions, never perfect, are in serious trouble. Many will save themselves, as businesses, but there is no guarantee they will maintain their commitment to doing the journalism we need. People who for whatever reason (time, money, skills, desire) are not taking charge of creating their own online news diet still deserve to have access to comprehensive credible sources of news.

The U.S. media system was not handed down from the heavens on tablets. It’s time to look at models from other countries — stronger public media, newspapers less dependent on advertising, etc. We do a lot of studying of online activity, but we don’t know nearly enough about how real people in the real world take in information from many sources and what that means for how journalism in the public interest needs to evolve. We, the people who care about the public getting the information it needs, must take the best from both worlds to build the media we need.

There’s lots more in the various sections of the study, including case studies of several new-media startups. We’ll have more tomorrow, but start digging into the findings today.

POSTED     Dec. 18, 2008, 6:26 p.m.
SHARE THIS STORY
   
Show comments  
Show tags
 
Join the 15,000 who get the freshest future-of-journalism news in our daily email.
Patreon is helping The Asheville Blade connect directly with readers — and skip over advertisers entirely
“I never have to consider if a story I run is going to make me take a financial hit. That lack of pressure gives us a huge amount of independence.”
ProPublica is leading a nationwide effort to document hate crimes, with local and national partners
“We’re not alone in trying to compile the numbers, and we’re not alone in trying to track all reports.”
Newsonomics: Trump may be the news industry’s greatest opportunity to build a sustainable model
Readers have finally understood that their payments for the news will actually make a difference in what they and their community know. That model needs to be extended down to states and cities.