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Civic Media or Citizen Journalism? A $5-Million Question

Will the phrase Civic Media displace We Media, Citizen Journalism, Networked Journalism, Open-Source Journalism, Pro-Am Journalism, Participatory Journalism in the search to get just the right phrase for the changes rocking established journalism? The answer: maybe to very likely. Civic Media now has the power of $5 million behind it. As you probably know, MIT’s Center for Future Civic Media was the $5 million winner of the Knight News Challenge. Deep in an explanation about the Center I found this:

We use the term civic media, rather than citizen journalism: civic media is any form of communication that strengthens the social bonds within a community or creates a strong sense of civic engagement among its residents. Civic media goes beyond news gathering and reporting. MIT students have experimented with a variety of new civic media techniques, from technologies for protests and civil disobedience to phone-texting systems that allow instant, sophisticated votes on everyday activities. The Center will amplify the development of these technologies for community empowerment, while also serving to generate curricula and open-source frameworks for civic action.

Transforming civic knowledge into civic action is an essential part of democracy. As with investigative journalism, the most delicate and important information can often focus on leaders and institutions that abuse the trust of the communities they serve. By helping to provide people with the necessary skills to process, evaluate, and act upon the knowledge in circulation, civic media ensures the diversity of inputs and mutual respect necessary for democratic deliberation. Some of what emerges here looks like traditional journalism, while some moves in radical new directions.

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