Citizen Journalism

Featured Participatory Project: How did Your Member of Congress Vote on SCHIP?

SCHIP - The State Children's Health Insurance Program, which covers more than 6 million U.S. kids from families whose income is too high to qualify for Medicaid but who are considered too poor to afford health insurance, has been all over the news this summer and fall as Congress debated the renewal and expansion of the program. President Bush has already vetoed the first bill approved by Democrats and many Republicans, and the House has held two votes on new versions of the bill but has yet to muster the votes needed to override the veto.


New Participatory Project: What was Big Tobacco's "Project Big Boy"?

What was Brown & Williamson's "Project Big Boy"? CMD launched the TobaccoWiki project to answer questions just like that (the answers are usually not very pretty) by enlisting citizens like you to mine the millions of pages of previously-secret, internal tobacco industry documents now posted on the Internet. Spending even a few minutes to find an interesting nugget of information about what this project involved would be helpful, so why not give it a spin?


New Participatory Project: Post Photos of the 2008 Candidates

We launched a new project, "Wiki the Vote," on Congresspedia this week to build profiles of each of the 2008 congressional candidates. We're looking to build the same kind of citizen-driven profiles of challengers that we have done for sitting members of Congress and have started with a first set of 300 confirmed candidates.


"Wiki the Vote" Project on Congresspedia Profiles Congressional Candidates in the 2008 Election

On Tuesday, the Center for Media and Democracy and the Sunlight Foundation launched a new collaborative, citizen-driven project on Congresspedia to build profiles on the hundreds of challengers for congressional seats, which will compliment the existing profiles on every member of Congress. The project is non-partisan and, in true open-source fashion, is free for anyone to participate -- even the candidates themselves.

Even for official party nominees, information on challengers is usually woefully inadequate and information on primary challengers is often nearly non-existent. The explosion of citizen blogging in the last few years has created a wealth of individual opinions and perspectives, but what has been lacking is a central repository of collaboratively produced, in-depth and accurate information. The Wiki the Vote project, due to its easily editable wiki format, will be just that.

"Just in Time" Censorship

It isn't just Burmese pro-democracy activists who have been denied Internet access by heavy-handed government censors. "OpenNet Initiative, which tracks Internet censorship, has documented signs that in recent years several governments -- including those of former Soviet republics Belarus, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan -- have closed off Internet access, or at least opposition Web sites, during periods preceding elections or times of intense protests.


Burmese Citizen Journalists Defy Military Junta to Tell Story of Protests

Photos of injured Burmese monks taken by a citizen journalistDespite the danger of defying a military junta that is determined to quash the current wave of protests, and Internet penetration of only 1%, Burmese citizen journalists, activists, and former professional journalists have shared news and images with the


Wikis Prove Tricky for PR Firms

Thanks to WikiScanner, more PR firms are coming under fire for making anonymous edits to Wikipedia that favored their clients. "Freud Communications' London office was caught making edits" on articles about Pizza Hut and Carphone Warehouse, reports PR Week.


A Visit to OhmyNews

On my way home from conferences in Malaysia, I unexpectedly ended up spending a few days in Seoul, South Korea. Thanks to Dan Gillmor, who described OMN as the best manifestation of "journalism-as-a-conversation" model, I was able to connect with OhmyNews (OMN), and fortunate to meet with Mr. Jean Min, the director of OhmyNews International (OMNI), on August 22, 2007.

We Know What You Did Online Last Summer

WikipediaSelf-described "disruptive technologist" Virgil Griffith lists as his top aim in developing WikiScanner: "To create a fireworks display of public relations disasters in which everyone brings their own fireworks, and enjoys."

Here at the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD), we see WikiScanner as a great way to better understand how public relations firms and other "perception managers" are subverting online discussions and social media. And what better website to track this on than Wikipedia, the world's most popular wiki, or collaboratively edited website?


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