Embedded video from CNN Video
Even President Barack Obama has apparently failed to meaningfully engage U.S. citizens online in government goings-on, according to the Obameter on PolitiFact.com, maintained by the Saint Petersburg Times in Florida. Engaging citizens online is a goal many innovators in the journalism industry are struggling to reach today.
The president promised during his campaign that “to reduce bills rushed through Congress and to the president before the public has the opportunity to review them, Obama ‘will not sign any non-emergency bill without giving the American public an opportunity to review and comment on the White House website for five days,’ according to PolitiFact.
The president broke the promise when he signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act on Jan. 29. without posting the item on the White House Web site first to allow for comment.
My mother found this presentation on the Internet and I thought it could make a good discussion point, relevant to the Representative Journalism Project. The video reviews a brief history of online information sharing and gives a definitive forecast for journalism.
Photo by Griff Wigley
The following article to appear in the Northfield Entertainment Guide.
Every morning, I wake up, pop my head through my sandwich board and, lifting from the knees, begin walking around town proclaiming the death of journalism as we once knew it and the coming of a mysterious savior who may or may not be me, a burgeoning writer who is working on the Representative Journalism Project in conjunction with the three bloggers of LocallyGrownNorthfield.org.
Naturally, I’ve met with skepticism, including my own. But lately, I haven’t felt alone in my quest to discover a new way of publishing news. That’s because more and more people seem to be curious to find out if the power of the plugged-in masses could be harnessed and used to improve the flow of important information.
For example, Jaci Smith, managing editor of the Northfield News, touched upon the matter in an editorial she wrote on Dec. 5 titled “Sticking to the Plan.” In the editorial, she discussed how Victor Summa, a member of the Northfield Economic Development Authority, posted a comment on LocallyGrownNorthfield.org under a story I wrote about the authority’s participation in a decision to build a new municipal liquor store.
The man on the elliptical machine beside me at Anytime Fitness stared forward into his Cardio Theater personal television screen, watching hockey. I considered saying something. But I didn’t.
Such an intrusion would be “un-American,” I reasoned, and I turned my righteous glare to my own screen to watch the presidential inauguration ceremony. I didn’t expect the broadcast would be more entertaining than my neighbor’s program. It’s just that watching the proceedings felt like performing a civic duty. (Eventually, the man tuned in, briefly).
Not long into the event coverage, I sensed that I could have performed that civic duty better.
This short film shows the importance of how you say something. If citizens gain a greater role in spreading information, are we risking that the information will get out there in a less powerful way than if the story were told by a “professional?” Join in a discussion that has to do with this topic on LocallyGrownNorthfield.org here. (Thanks to my mom for finding this film!)
Photo by Jane McWilliams Susan Hvistendahl beams in the foreground while Leonard Witt, founder of the Representative Journalism Project, takes notes behind her. They were two of nearly a dozen people who joined a conversation about the project on Saturday morning at the Bittersweet Eatery.
On Saturday, Leonard Witt, who founded the project, engaged in an informal discussion with a dozen people living in Northfield (including me). We talked about the future of the journalism industry and what part the Representative Journalism Project could play in making that future brighter.
In attendance in alphabetical order, with titles that do no justice in describing them: Alex Beebe, manager of Just Food co-operative grocery store; Sam Friedman, Carleton student; Reginaldo Haslett-Marroquin, farmer; Susan Hvistendahl, columnist; Randy Jennings, a frequent online commenter; David Ludescher, ditto; Jane McWilliams, Northfield.org board member; Jaci Smith, managing editor of the Northfield News; Kiffi and Victor Summa, community activists; Shayla Thiel-Stern, a RepJ Project researcher.
I’m interested in hearing from the people who attended the two-hour meeting to see if anyone had anything else to say.