Could citizen journalists help save news organizations?

An article in the Columbia Journalism Review about a grassroots network of pro and amateur journalists who covered the 2008 presidential campaign strongly relates to my earlier post on citizen journalism.

Off the Bus writers may be new to the media (see below), but they have long been participants in America’s greatest tradition—volunteerism and citizen engagement. Now that this tradition has begun to blossom in yet one more venue—the sphere of public information—journalism should take heed and pick up where campaigns and nonprofits have left off. A stronger rapport with the public won’t solve journalism’s crisis by itself, but it could be a central component of the solution.

"OffTheBus was a citizen-powered campaign news site co-sponsored by The Huffington Post and Jay Rosen’s NewAssignment at New York University’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute. Inspired by Timothy Crouse’s The Boys on the Bus, which chronicled a campaign’s ability to manipulate the press, we instructed our citizen journalists to steer clear of the horse race and the top-down coverage that dominates the mainstream press." - Amanda Michel, Get Off the Bus; The future of pro-am journalism, Columbia Journalism Review, March/April 2009

Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs