[On April 2, Texas Forums hosted a workshop for members of the National Issues Forums network on how to use principles of citizen journalism to report the results of their forums. Led by John Doble (Public Agenda) and Marla Crockett (Citizen Journalism expert) about 15-20 people (participants log in and out so it’s hard to count!) learned how to report on what people in forums are saying as well as how they are talking about the issue. The following was written by participant Margaret Holt from Georgia and published in Bob Daley’s Letter from Home from the Kettering Foundation.]
April 3, 2007
Bob – Here’s a little report of an online forum on citizen journalism from your Georgia Stringer, MHolt:
Last night (8-10 p.m. EST) I participated in an “OPAL” event sponsored by Texas Forums. I didn’t need to leave Watkinsville, Georgia, to be a part of this. Taylor Willingham (aka Teckie Taylor) arranged this event for us. It was instructive and extremely interactive. The energy issue was used for our entry into a discussion of citizen journalists.
“OPAL is an international collaborative effort by libraries of all types to provide web-based programs and training for library users and library staff members. These live events are held in online rooms where participants can interact via voice-over-IP, text chatting, and synchronized browsing.”
There were 16 participants with Taylor Willingham moderating the group. Most of us could hear one another, many of us could speak using a web microphone, but even when that wasn’t possible due to individual technologies available to participants, everyone could enter written comments that we all could read no matter if we were in New York, Georgia, Texas and many other locations. Marla Crockett and John Doble led us through some useful ideas about citizen journalism. This was very meaningful to Jill Severn and me in Georgia, because we’d like to experiment more with citizen journalists in our PPI in late June.
Although the technology is not yet “perfect”, it has come a long way, and interacting with all these tools is sure a lot more pleasant than dealing with the Atlanta Airport. I do prefer seeing my colleagues like Patty and John face-to-face, but this technology provided a very adequate way to hone in on a special topic. Everything we said is archived – the written and the verbal, and the slides as well. That means that anytime we want to guide people on this topic we have immediate access to fresh thinking.
Here are some comments from my Georgia colleague, Jill Severn: (Jill is Head of Access and Outreach in our Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies at the University of Georgia)
“I found the citizen journalist training to be a worthwhile experience. I’m still amazed that technology allows us to come together in such interesting ways. I look forward to listening to the recording of the seminar and reviewing the slides–so much was happening all at once with the chat and the regular commentary of the presenters that I know I missed something. One thing that struck me is that this training should be offered more broadly in the same way that issue-framing and moderating currently are.
The skills of listening and assessing have board potential value for PPI participants working on sharing/publicizing their own projects and issues. I’m also energized about exploring distance learning seminars as something that Russell might offer. Texas Forums are a wonderful model! “