Logan248 is wearing a blue shirt and black suspenders with an NRA membership card in one hand and a pair of scissors in the other. He hardly speaks a word, but he doesn’t have to. His next action gives us clear insight into his thoughts on the Sandy Hook Elementary Shootings.
Logan248 and other citizens have become involved in what is called participatory journalism. They have paired up with CNN to create a project called Open Story: Tributes for Newtown, which you can check out here http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-900216.
This story expresses how lucky we are to share this form of activism through the lens of citizens’ personal stories. As Brandel explains in the article, http://niemanreports.org/articles/how-participatory-journalism-turns-news-consumers-into-collaborators/, people who were considered mere consumers of media are now able to take an active role and collaborate with news stations.
Until recently, this idea was unheard of since consumers of media were there solely to receive the news. Jennifer Brandel explains, “I’ve been in newsrooms where they look at the audience as a consumer, a necessary evil, as opposed to a highly valuable ideas contributor.” It is a very unfortunate way to look at people since we are living in a time where understanding each other is based on our level of connectivity. This shift has started, particularly in how we relate, not only to other people but our interests and in turn how we choose to express them.
In giving the audience a chance to participate in the process of news making, journalists are ensuring they keep the audience engaged. Not only that. They are also planting the seeds for people to become advocates of a larger cause. We experience this in Brandel’s Curious City, where people were able to submit questions that would be nominated to become news stories. The outcome was well received because the questions were coming from the community itself thus creating a higher level of interest.
The most important part of participatory journalism is that journalists get to empower their audience. Yes, today’s society needs empowerment to be consistently engaged in what is happening around them! And that is okay because when people are empowered, they become motivated.
It is more reasonable to have people join to raise awareness for a cause than a perfectly polished statistical report on it. (There truly is a strength in numbers!) We must step away from the idea that journalists are here to report to “the masses.” We are humans, and we are here to serve each other. We must learn to join forces, collaborate, and (above all) learn from each other. It’s the only way journalism will thrive in a society that has made hashtags and connectivity it’s main squeeze. It’s time to take the old walls down that separate us from each other.
Rather than excluding the audience from the news they consume, journalists are learning the benefits of being inclusive and seeing the rewards of collaborating with them. Such is the case with Logan248, who won the iReport award for the 3rd Annual CNN iReport Awards. His video is only thirty-four seconds long, but that’s all you need to be empowered. From one human to another.