Jeff Jarvis isn’t happy with the expression “citizen journalism,” and says:
“Networked journalism” takes into account the collaborative nature of journalism now: professionals and amateurs working together to get the real story, linking to each other across brands and old boundaries to share facts, questions, answers, ideas, perspectives. It recognizes the complex relationships that will make news. And it focuses on the process more than the product.
Not a bad distinction. But the most vital part of this is the fact that it leads us to a better informed citizenry. That is the ultimate goal, at least in my thinking.
The American Heritage Dictionary defines “citizen” in four ways:
1. A person owing loyalty to and entitled by birth or naturalization to the protection of a state or nation.
2. A resident of a city or town, especially one entitled to vote and enjoy other privileges there.
3. A civilian.
4. A native, inhabitant, or denizen of a particular place: “We have learned to be citizens of the world, members of the human community” (Franklin D. Roosevelt).
I’m a proud American (even when I’m not proud of my nation’s official actions or its political leaders). I am a citizen, for sure, in the first definition.
But in this context I use the word more to reflect the other definitions, not just as one who is a formal citizen of a nation-state. In a globalizing world, the distinction is less important than it used to be — not unimportant, by any means, but no longer necessarily the defining status of a human being. Before this radical evolution is over, in a few decades, formal citizenship may seem almost quaint.
The citizens I refer to are members of communities, large and small, geographic and interest-based. We inform each other, using networks and other tools.
Citizenship carries responsibility in any community. Indeed, the idea of being responsible to one’s self and one’s neighbors (virtual or otherwise) is an essential part of what I’m trying to accomplish.
So while I’m all for “networked journalism,” I’m also going to stick with “citizen journalism” — because in the end journalism is a service, not just a method.