Definition of Terms

Just to be clear on what I’m researching, I’ll be creating a glossary of terms that will be updated as my research progresses.

Participatory Journalism — expanded definition:

The terms public journalism, citizen journalist, independent journalist, participatory journalism, and grassroots journalism are intertwined, used within the same or different contexts in a variety of papers. Paulussen, Heinonen, Domingo, and Quandt (2007) describe them all as “participatory models of journalism” (p. 137), but refer to Nip’s (2006) definition of citizen or grassroots media as content created independently, outside of the influence of traditional journalists; public journalism as aiming to involve citizens while journalists retain the gatekeeper role; and participatory journalism as a collaboration between citizens and journalists. However, the content created by citizen or grassroots journalists is often acquired or used by traditional media. For example, pictures and video of the G20 protests in Toronto during the summer of 2010. CBC now has a formal policy on the use of citizen journalists and content like youtube video in its newscasts (personal communication, K. Fox, January 28, 2011). Independent media, such as documentary producers, work with a variety of news networks and funding agencies, and often work with staff journalists in the process – or not. What some people refer to as a classic example of citizen journalism, Ohmy News, is in fact a collaborative effort between 60-thousand citizen journalists and 60 professional journalists (Young, 2009). The majority of Ohmy’s content is created by the audience. Anyone can submit a story, but it is the professional journalists who vet material and decide what will make it to the web (Kim & Hamilton, 2006). In practice, there are no clearly defined lines.

For the purpose of this research—and to provide a continuum for participation and collaboration—independent, grassroots and/or citizen journalism refers to all types of journalistic content created and consumed outside mainstream media. Participatory journalism is all journalistic content created collaboratively by journalists, independent media, and citizens, as well as content created independently by citizen/grassroots, or independent media that is then acquired or used by mainstream media.

Participatory Journalism: The terms public journalism, citizen journalist, independent journalist, participatory journalism, and grassroots journalism seem to be intertwined, used within the same or different contexts in a variety of papers (Nip, 2006 ). For the purpose of this research, grassroots and/or citizen journalism will refer to all types of content created outside mainstream media; participatory journalism will refer to content eventually used by mainstream media, or created by grassroots media in conjunction with professional journalists.

Public Sphere:  Basically the public sphere is an idealistic place, imagined by an academic named Habermas, where everyone has the opportunity to be heard with no political, economic, or social constraints. But that’s my interpretation–others would disagree. No agreement exists on whether the public sphere can ever be functional, or even if it exists. For example, Schudson’s (2009) interpretation of a public sphere, where “a statement can be judged true” (p. 112) only if “all people would agree on it” and were able “ to discuss all of human experience without any constraints for an indefinite length of time”, is unachievable. However, Habermas (1991) himself says the public sphere “may be conceived above all as the sphere of private people come together as a public” (p. 27).  The public sphere is not, necessarily, about coming to agreement, but having an unfiltered voice.


37 thoughts on “Definition of Terms

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