Recent news from the Center for Civic Media | MIT Center for Civic Media

Recent news from the Center for Civic Media

Ron Steinman's strong stand against citizen journalism

Ron Steinman, NBC's Saigon bureau chief during the Vietnam War, the author of two books on the war, and now executive editor of The Digital Journalist, takes an unusually strong--some might say aggressively dismissive--stand against the rise of citizen journalism, particularly as use of volunteer reporters displaces professionals. "It is important that we defeat what appears to be a land grab by citizen journalists and blind accountants," Steinman writes, "or what they really are: untutored amateurs, the almost journalists of our modern age."

The gathering and presentation of news cannot live on desire alone. It cannot go forward without money and lots of it. It takes time and dedication to keep people informed. Journalists need training to succeed. Without training, and the high standards that training brings, something that the supporters of citizen journalism decry as hoary, there would be no journalism at all. In the end, someone has to pay the professionals for the work they do.


For all the hype, using citizen journalists is an excuse by the bean counters at publications to lower costs. By putting costs over content, the accountants lower standards. This saves an enormous amount of money it would have to spend on those who normally collect news. In reality, accountants really do not know better.

Read and comment on the full post at The Digital Journalist.

C4FCM heading to Amman for "Mobile Data Collection for Social Action" workshop

Just got word from Chris that Jeff Warren (Newsflow/Cartagen, Josh Levinger (VirtualGaza), and Nadav Aharony (Comm.unity) are headed to Amman, Jordan, for an amazing workshop hosted by UNICEF Innovation and our friends at Mobile Active.

It's called "Innovations in Mobile Data Collection for Social Action in the Middle East". Snips from the registration site:

UNICEF Innovation and invite you to attend a three-day workshop on distributed and real-time data collection, monitoring, and visualization of data with mobile technology.

What is this About?

Inside the Computer Clubhouse (Part Three of Three)

Would it be possible to do what the Computer Clubhouses do in the context of more formalized educational structures? Why or why not?

YASMIN: We have many examples of schools that adopt the premise of self-directed work for students who with assistance of teachers and other peers dig deeply into projects rather than to follow textbooks. Schools and classrooms like these think about themselves as communities of learners rather than as a collection of individuals. Examples are the recently opened "Quest to Learn" school in New York City; here in Philadelphia, I know of the Science Leadership Academy.

Inside the Computer Clubhouse (Part Two of Three)

What do you see as the biggest impact the Computer Clubhouse movement has made on our current pedagogies around new media?

ROBBIN: When I think of pedagogies and new media one thought is that new media can serve as a powerful amplifier of human sociality, in this case around learning. Such new media pedagogies should catalyze, facilitate, and propagate individual and collective learning and teaching experiences. The Clubhouse has been a test bed for exploring how learners and mentors can engage learning from each other through digital media. One outcome has been how members and mentors come to view digital media as a material for expressing their ideas about learning and their community.

The MacArthur Foundation will be hosting an upcoming conference on Diversifying Participation. What lessons might we take from the Computer Clubhouses about how to support diversity in access and engagement with digital media?

Seeking Feedback from Stakeholders for Between the Bars

You may have seen Charlie DeTar speak recently about a project we are working on: Between the Bars. The current plan for the system is to allow inmates who do not have Internet access to blog by sending letters to a network of volunteers who can scan, upload, and transcribe them. The goal is to provide inmates with a public outlet for expression, and to allow the public to better understand what a real inmate's life is like.

We're looking for help and feedback, perhaps from you, in helping further design the project.


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