Dan Gillmor, who’s only like one of the pioneers of citizen journalism and its ilk, has written a nice state-of-the-nation-esque post summarising citizen media, which is titled Citizen Media: A Progress Report.
This is a must-read for anyone who’s interested in the concept of citizen media (or its equivalents). Here’s an excerpt:
There’s always a backlash against new things. Sometimes it comes in the form of ill-informed, reactionary fear and loathing. Sometimes it takes the form of serious critiques. But it’s always important to pay attention.
What worries may of the more honest critics? Among other things, the sense that mass amateurization in media lead to a meltdown of quality.
Consider Encyclopedia Britannica. The people there are seeing their core business, if not raison d’etre, come under challenge from the online world, most notably by Wikipedia. Never mind that those projects are extremely different; Britannica has gone on the attack, giving its new blog over to citizen-media critics, some of whom have independently discredited themselves to a large extent, and others whose arguments have been systematically pulled apart. (Michael Gorman’s “Web 2.0: The Sleep of Reason Brings Forth Monsters” and Clay Shirky’s rebuttal, “Old Revolutions, Good; New Revolutions, Bad” are a prime example of the latter.)
Critics have also legitimately raised ethical concerns. They note that the standards of traditional media — often violated, of course — tend to prevent overt interference with journalism by the subjects of coverage. We’ll come back to that.