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Ed Arnoun: public / civic journalism is not a service, but a philosophy

“Much of the criticism of public journalism — especially the most sarcastic — is based on misconceptions or erroneous judgments about what we mean by public journalism,” says Ed Arnone , a professor at the University of Miami (Ohio, USA), one from the pioneers of the public journalism movement in the USA.

We talked with Ed in Novosibirsk, where he came to the seminar of the Press Development Institute-Siberia "Legal Regulation and Professional Self-Regulation in Multimedia Participatory Media".

- Ed, the first question asked me about citizen journalism is a terminological question. How do you interpret this concept?
- As far as I understand, in Russia, due to the translation, the terms “citizen journalism” and “public / civic journalism” were confused. Here they are translated equivalently - “citizen journalism”.

In the US, “citizen journalism” refers primarily to those who are not journalists by profession, but publish news on blogs and personal sites (or what they mean by news). A small percentage of civilian journalists collaborate with publishing houses that decide for themselves whether or not to send material to the page.

Public / Civic Journalism is primarily related to professional journalists. The central idea is thoughtful, deep work on incorporating the voices of public representatives into the daily practice of the media. When the movement began, the faces of the authorities, the elite, university circles, and experts of various kinds were vividly represented on the pages of newspapers. Public / Civic Journalism motivates journalists to write stories not only in a political but also in a public, everyday context, to show how a particular event will affect the life of a particular community.

- Yes, our civil journalism is often understood as the activity of bloggers. This is citizen journalism. What is the difference between an adherent of public / civic journalism and an ordinary journalist?

“For a long time, many of us who were involved in journalism reform, later called“ public / civic journalism, ”politely refused to give a definition of what we were doing. First of all, it was a conversation about improving our journalistic practices and our habits, so that they are more consistent with our goals and ethical principles. Especially in the part that concerns the journalistic story about what is happening in society. And even later, when the “movement of people's / public journalism,” as it was called, grew to hundreds of experiments conducted by editorial offices on different continents, nobody could give, did not give, did not attempt to define this concept.

But from the very beginning there is an urgent reason to discuss why we are experimenting in this field, to talk about our motives and principles that we are trying to follow. This is true because most of the criticism - especially the most sarcastic part of it - is based on misconceptions or erroneous judgments about what we mean by public journalism.

I am personally not sure that journalists are aware of the problems that really concern their community. They should get out of their desks and computers and just walk through the streets, listening to what people are saying. When you are close to people, you hear real conversations that are different from what is said at official meetings and meetings. If you invest your time in it, every time you write material, you will remember how your readers feel that they are valuable, how they prioritize.

We mean by public journalism:

“But journalists may argue that the opinion of a responsible person from the authorities, a specialist helps the material to be more qualitative, supported by an expert accurate view.

- When we represent the government as “some other people”, as something separate from the majority of us, we misinterpret the management and solution of social problems solely as the responsibility of officials in our democratic society. The reality is that most of the work and progress achieved in solving any social problems is created outside the government, created by the hands of people and groups discussing problems, jointly deciding what can be done in a particular situation, and acting on the basis of decisions.

We do not understand popular, public journalism:

- New technologies allowed the journalist (who knows how to use them) to be faster in covering events that are significant to the community. How do you think this is a valuable acquisition?

- Be careful. Do not equate the tools you use with the idea of ​​popular journalism. These technologies are things that are designed to help you in an attempt to make a report on social issues more civil. But they are not the defining basis of popular journalism.

Some technologies may approach what you are doing, some may not. There is no need to treat people's journalism as an infographic, a block of questions and answers, a file on people, a list of links, a video taken by phone, tweets or other journalistic formats. The tools you use are not equal to what you are building.

I repeat, we are directing our efforts so that our journalistic habits, reflexes and practices become more “popular” or “civil” - we change our attitude. This is a way of thinking, an approach to your daily work. Do not mix them with functions, techniques, tools, devices that journalists can use to achieve this goal.

Source: https://habr.com/ru/post/100917/

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