Debating online media models @ Highway Africa

Looking forward to this year’s Highway Africa conference. I’m going to enjoy debating with We the Media author and general online media guru Dan Gillmor on the topic: ‘Whose citizen journalism is it anyway?’ at the Digital Citizens Indaba. Personally, I still don’t think media get it. Look, they’re trying to be inclusive: First it was the letters pages, now it’s the comments blocks below articles… but could they do more to include the user? Should they do more? How could they do it while also ensuring quality and relevance? Going to be good.

On another level entirely, I’m starting to dislike the framing of these “citizen media” debates. There is a pointlessness to it all that I haven’t quite been able to put my finger on. Why is it that non-media web companies that play in the content game don’t really care about this as much as media. Bloggers just don’t care. Do media companies agonise over it because they are grappling with legacy content and business models? Hmmmm.

I’m also speaking on Digital Business models with Guy Berger, Arthur Goldstuck, Steve Lang and Nic Haralambous, where I’ll give 10 key attributes of a successful online media business. If you’re not in Grahamstown, there will be TV interviews on SABC shows called Interface and Point Blank. Catch us there too.

This trip is becoming a regular thing for me. I love returning to Rhodes University, the place that educated me and which hosts the conference in Grahamstown. I also have an ulterior motive for going down as it allows me to visit my neglected mother of the year, Janet Buckland, — who regularly complains I don’t call her enough. (Yes, I’m guilty and I have a present for you to make up for it.) 🙂

Comments (2)

  1. Anne wrote::

    Hey Matt – Really enjoyed your presentation today, especially your focus on _participative publishing_. It was interesting to pick up mild irritation from both you and Dan Gillmor to the limited understanding of what “citizen journalism” is and could be. Perhaps it’s time to coin a new, more inclusive term?
    For those of you who missed it, you can find Matt’s presentation here:

    Sunday, September 7, 2008 at 11:09 pm #
  2. matt wrote::

    @anne …tks 4 yr comments…altho didnt feel it was my best :-P…the term does irritate me. This is the Wikipedia entry on Citizen journalism:

    Others criticise the formulation of the term “citizen journalism” to describe the concept, as the word “citizen” has a conterminous relation to the nation-state. The fact that many millions of people are considered stateless and often without citizenship (such as refugees or immigrants without papers) limits the concept to those recognised only by governments. Additionally the global nature of many participatory media initiatives, such as the Independent Media Center, makes talking of journalism in relation to a particular nation-state largely redundant as its production and dissemination do not recognise national boundaries. Some additional names given to the concept based on this analysis are grassroots media, people’s media, or participatory media.

    Monday, September 8, 2008 at 11:49 am #