Online Class TuneUp: Citizen Journalism 101 with Olivia Abel

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When the local news website, Gothamist died (and all of its sister city publications - but is coming back to life!) because its billionaire owner didn't agree with the editors and writers wanting to unionize, regular readers felt the fragility of local media. Suddenly, the news source showing and telling them what to do disappeared (it actually went dark - articles vanished). Writers of those articles pretty much collapsed onto the floor, because all of their work was gone, and any change they made through their articles was gone. All the proof they unearthed was gone (archives have since come back online, but still).

When this happened, the shock-wave through the community left Tin Shingle's owner, who is also the publisher of a local media blog, A Little Beacon Blog, was left with the realization that it's up to the people to get out information. What little number of journalists there are left in the industry can run with stories and investigate them, but research and investigations take time and money that many small publications don't have that much of. Citizens have been stepping up to do their own investigative work - Citizen Journalists.

Citizen Journalists are regular people who have been contributing to the local news scene by sharing their experiences via status updates, photos and speeches at public meetings. If citizens are taking on the role of informing, where their voices are heard and at times, taken as fact even if no fact was checked, what can these citizen journalist do to be even better and produce great news?

In this first installment of Citizen Journalism 101, we talk with Columbia School of Journalism graduate and top editor, Olivia Abel, who will reveal her training in Journalism Basics:

  • Who, What, Where, When, and Why: What’s important for a story
  • Basic Tenets of Good Reporting
  • Fact Checking and Libel Law
  • Recording Laws
  • Photos Treatment