Co-authors Ronald Ross and Susan Carson Cormier are passionate about encouraging more people to become “citizen journalists”. They co-founded the National Association of Citizen Journalists (www.NACJ.us) and have written a 2010 book entitled “Handbook for Citizen Journalists”, which I just read.
Ross and Cormier believe that citizen journalism is a movement– more than a passing fad– and they analyze what makes an effective citizen journalist, and help the reader answer 6 questions to determine if you have what it takes to be a citizen journalist. They go on to say that those who succeed in this evolving field have “passion, push and perseverance.”
Citizen journalists also have 6 traits: they are “hyperlocal, narrowly focused, persistent, technologically savvy, remarkably ubiquitous, personally passionate.”
On page 48 of this Handbook they emphasize:
“Here’s the bottom line: “When journalism is done right, people are informed, lives are changed, the power elites are held accountable, ignorance is diminished, creativity is cultivated, problems are solved and freedom is preserved”.
The second half of the book contains helpful, practical chapters on “Journalism 101″ including — Skills you Need to be a Successful Citizen Journalist, Defining the News and How to Write it, How to Conduct an Interview, How to Generate Story Ideas, How to Edit Yourself, The Importance of Sourcing, How to Avoid Libel.
As a blogger/citizen journalist for this online Tucsoncitizen.com since mid June 2009, I found this book helpful, inspiring and quite useful, to reinforce what I already figured out about this type of writing, and to learn what I didn’t know (never having had any journalism courses in high school or college). What I had when I started was a B.A. in Psychology & Anthropology and a J.D. from law school, but also a lot of those traits listed above as a community activist, especially ” behind their words and pictures a deep passion to make known to others the events they cover.” (page 39)
As a writer about community/political events and people, the authors’ words on page 112 resonated with me:
“As a citizen journalist, you will play a vital role in building a sense of kinship and understanding in your area. Your stories about interesting people, worthy ideas and important events will help create a community where people know and respect each other.”
Ah, one of the very reasons why I am online here as “Carolyn’s Community”. What I enjoy is that you can post a blog immediately (unlike the print media using newsprint), with the ability to update immediately should there be errors, plus post additional links to websites and online videos (also unlike the print media). And you can link yourself to Facebook, Twitter, etc. for additional readership.
Read this book if you are interested in joining us here at the Tucsoncitizen.com, then contact editor Mark Evans at email@example.com for further information. And you can also join the NACJ as a “cub reporter” at $60/year, or a “beat reporter” at $120/year, providing you with helpful resources, an email newsletter, and training to become an effective citizen journalist.
Join the movement!