Debating Participatory Journalism: Newsrooms, Campuses, Courts and Congress

This week I’ll be at the Association for Educators in Journalism and Mass Communications (AEJMC) moderating a panel with some of my favorite people, on one of my favorite topics. (Click here to jump to the links and resources section)

The session is called, “Media Policy and Participatory Journalism: Teaching, Engaging and Protecting Acts of Journalism” (scheduled for Thursday at 11:45, location TBD) and will focus on big legal and ethical questions that are raised as more and more people are taking up the tools of journalism and covering the news in their communities and around the globe.

How do we understand press freedom when anyone can carry a press in their pocket? How are state and federal laws shaping people’s ability to participate in newsgathering? How are journalism schools welcoming more community participation and preparing journalists for that kind of engagement?

The session is based in part on my research paper from last year on acts of journalism and press freedom debates emerging in the digital age. However, the session also resonates with the work I am doing now around developing and supporting new local news networks which are deeply participatory, engaged with their communities and sustainable.

I’ll be joined by Amanda Hickman of the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, Lisa Lynch of Concordia University, Madeleine Bair of and Morgan Weiland of Stanford University. Drawing on their work in journalism education, advocacy and human rights, the panel will discuss:

  • legal issues – current legal and policy debates that could have a bearing on participatory journalism,
  • ethical issues – accuracy, verification, the safety of partners and citizens working with journalists,
  • structural issues – how newsroom spaces and online spaces nurture and inhibit participatory journalism differently
  • educational issues – how do we better prepare students, what skills do they need, to engage these issues?

Here is more detail about the session from the panel description:

Press freedom is has been thrust into the national spotlight over the past year but too often current debates ignore important questions about First Amendment rights in a participatory, networked fourth estate. As the landscape of media shifts, and more people than ever are involved in the process of journalism, we need to have a larger debate about how we protect all acts of journalism.

The government’s aggressive prosecution of leaks, the NSA’s mass surveillance, the arrests of citizen journalists around Occupy protests, and outdated credentialing laws have real consequences for how we teach and prepare students for engaging communities. But these are just a few of the media and Internet policy debates happening in Washington, DC, and at statehouses that will impact our classrooms and our newsrooms.

This session will look at the complex web of digital rights and First Amendment policy from the perspective of activists, academics and journalists. It will draw comparisons to similar debates happening in Canada where the conference is being held. Panelists will debate the role of journalism schools in media policy advocacy and how research and curriculum can and should adapt to an age of new threats to press freedom.

Links and Resource:

This is not an exhaustive list of resources on participatory journalism, but rather just an inventory of reports and resources we discussed during our panel. Feel free to add more in the comments.


Educational Programs:

Legal and Ethical Debates:

Newsroom Examples:

Photo by Osvaldo Gago on Flickr, used via creative commons


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