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Citizen Journalism
Sunday, June 19, 2005
PB260014Every now and again, Sylvia Paull invites a group of people to drop by the Hillside Club in Berkeley to focus on a hot topic. This evening, Uta and I attended a presentation entitled Got News? Citizen Journalism with Dan Gillmor, Becky O’Malley, and Peter Merholz.

PB260024Becky O'Malley, executive editor of the Berkeley Daily Planet, told us the paper was started by three Stanford MBAs who mistakenly thought there was money to be made in small, local papers. Four years and $4 million later, they threw in the towel, and Becky and her husband picked it up for a song. The Planet comes out three times a week but retains the Daily Planet name for the tie to Clark Kent, Lois Lane, and Perry White.

PB260022Peter Merholz, who coined the term blog, described his Beast Blog ("because Beast is Pig Latin for East Bay"). Peter had hoped to have this be a team effort but has found coaxing out contributions is extremely time-consuming.

PB260021Dan Gillmor, who covered Silicon Valley for the San Jose Mercury-News until jumping ship recently, told us about Bayosphere -- citizen journalism of, by, and for the Bay Area. Bayosphere isn't open yet but the shell is on the web, as well as Dan's great personal blog. Dan's riding the DIY (Do It Yourself) wave that's lapping the geek community. Dan's mission is to help people tell other people what's going on.

The three speakers could hardly have been more different, but that worked because each of them had interesting things to say in his/her own right.

Local journalism might support ads from the long tail.

I think of citizen journalism as a form of "remixing." Taken from the music world, remixing is spreading into other realms. It involves using things (like blogs) for purposes they were not originally intended (like journalism).

Walking home today from lunch at the newly opened Himalaya restaurant, I listened to an IT Conversation featuring Danny Hillis. Danny and fellow Disney Fellow Brad Ferren are combining hardware, software, biology, and toys in new and different ways to work on cancer cures and propel robot dinosaurs, all of which Danny considers remixing. It all began, he says, at the breakfast table when he was a child; he mixed Fruit Loops into his Oatmeal and has been remixing ever since.


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