Citizens’ voices matter

A few years ago I conducted a series of webinar-style workshops for the U.S. State Department, for content creators, educators, marketers and those in traditional and new media. The workshops were called  “Passport to Digital Citizenship.”

I was convinced that citizen’s voices would be valuable, and –despite technological barriers and people who would try to keep them quiet– they could be heard.

So today, as my book is about to launch, I am thrilled to see this report by CNN on the importance of citizen-driven media.

Journalism has been forever changed — I’d argue for the better — thanks to the fact that people can interact with media organizations and share their opinions, personal stories, and photos and videos of news as it happens. This year’s nominated iReports are prime examples of how participatory storytelling can positively affect the way we cover and understand the news. 

(“36 stories that prove citizen journalism matters.” By Katie Hawkins-Gaar, CNN | Wed April 3, 2013 )

When we talk of  ‘participatory journalism’ we mean that ‘CitJos’ work alongside traditional media. They are not here as a replacement model, but to complement the changing media industry. Of the 100,000 citizen stories submitted to in 2012, they used 10,789 –having vetted them first.

I just interviewed the creator of a leading citizen journalist outfit in South Asia, and he stressed the importance of community guidelines, and careful design.

Citizen journalism, and the power of citizen voices is a big section in my book, Chat Republic.

My graduating Class of ‘digital citizens’

Just got off from the awards ceremony in Colombo, where I spoke, via Skype, from a spare bedroom, to a gathering of 35 attendees who qualified for a certificate.

This was the conclusion of a 6-part series of webinars I conducted for the US State Department, at the USIS in Colombo, Sri Lanka. The series was called Passport To Digital Citizenship.

Ambassador Patricia A. Butenis who addressed the group after me spoke of the ‘Republic of the Internet’ –a very fitting reference, considering the times we are in as nations and communities meld together into a global community that is at once powerful and complicated –as Republics are!

Many of the graduating class are already very active members of this diverse, passionate Republic, using  social media that is becoming their glue (to hold things together) and the thread (an infinite, unravelling ball of thread, that is) that binds us all together. See larger picture here.

Some of you in my class are already moving forward, collaborating and connecting across your specializations, ethnic communities, employee networks and global and local communities.

First, to all of you in this graduating ‘class’ of digital citizens, congratulations! But as I mentioned in my address, don’t just hang that certificate on your wall.

Put it to work. Go light a fire under a sleepy old organization that is stuck in ‘anti-social media’! Show people the power of collaboration and digital storytelling through social media.

Because this blog, Hoipolloi Report, is all about those voices out there, I am taking a step to add a few guest bloggers over the next few weeks. The first of them will be two people from the Class of 2010 Digital Citizens. Who will they be?

Stay tuned!

End Note: A big thank you to Steve England, Dan Wool, Gary Campbell, Derrick Mains and Dave Barnhart who were my co-presenters in this series.