Discussion about citizen journalism often centres rather lazily around the newsworthy mobile footage stuff, and the first panel of the afternoon gave the BBC a chance to show its 4-minute citizen journalism feature again covering all that. Cue talk of 2005 as the year of citizen journalism – the London bombings, tsunami, Buncefield, etc etc etc. Alas no Salam Pax, who was supposed to be talking via satellite link, but instead there’s Rachel North who described “an overpowering need to tell the 7/7 story” while she still had glass and blood in her hair from the explosions.
Powerful stuff, but how is this content incorporated into mainstream?
There’s a real need here – as I often feel about these conferences – to ground the more theoretical discussion in very practical terms. Like a doggy bag of ideas to take back to the office. Emily Bell pointed out that no-one mentioned anything like privacy or safety until the dying minutes of this session, so that was a wasted opportunity. (The GU editor-in-chief is one of the conference’s intriguingly-titled We-Jays, keeping speakers in check.)
Slight discomfort detected as the panel is asked which blogs they read. A not entirely convincing selection of three from Helen Boaden; she reads Richard Sambrook, Nick Robinson and Rachel North. So a healthy range of BBC projects covered there then…
There’s more than a glimmer of skepticism from director of BBC news which doesn’t seem to fit too comfortably with the BBC’s creative future plans. Audible ‘ouch’ when she said she worries who will call the bloggers to account. Isn’t the point that they call each other to account?
Conclusions from the panel:
David Dunkley-Gyimah of Batten Award-winning viewmagazine.tv: “Bloggers fulfill a need to hold the mainstream to account.”
George Brock, Saturday Times editor: “Words will still be important despite a largely audio-visual world.”
Rachel cites GU’s Comment is Free as a model for the future: lightly moderated (“lighter than you might think – ,” says Bobbie Johnson next to me) interactive talk boards that allow readers a direct response to the news that enhances news stories.
You can download the audio of the panel here.
Or you can stream it here … click on the arrow: [audio:http://www.paidcontent.org/audio/wemediacitj.mp3]
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This article originally appeared in MediaGuardian.