The Citizens’ Media Association: a proposal

The Citizens’ Media Association: a proposal

: Out of the Bloggercon session on blogs as business, the clear and resounding wish of the assembled bloggers was to start a trade association that will enable business and sell the wonders of our new medium.

So here is a proposal for the Citizens’ Media Association (working title), a first step for discussion.

I was frankly surprised at the popular acclaim for the idea of such a group. I’d added it to the wiki the night before the session, thinking it would bring polite chuckles at best. But when one of the bloggers at the session said it out loud, an epidemic of head-nodding evertook the SRO crowd. To make sure it wasn’t just polite conference-think — people do lots of nodding at conferences — I had the crowd vote on what they thought was the single most important thing we needed to make blogs work as businesses. It was about even: a trade association and better stats on the size of the blogosphere (and the latter, most agreed, would be a task of the former). So a trade association it is.

Note that I’m expanding this past weblogs, for we don’t know what will develop now that the people own their own printing presses and broadcast towers. And the last thing we need is to get into a fit of exclusionary orthodoxy about what is and isn’t a weblog.

If you want a model, start with the Online Publishers Association, which sells marketers on the effectiveness and importance of quality online sites. Look also to the Interactive Advertising Bureau, which is more concerned with such matters as ad standards.

The Citizens’ Media Association

The Association will:

> Gather and disseminate statistics on the size and success of citizens’ media in terms of both audience and revenue: total audience; total traffic; audience demographics; author demographics; audience behavior online; audience buying behavior; categorization of interest areas; census of languages and national origins of sites; total projected ad revenue; total projected commerce revenue; collection of success stories.

> Set standards for the means of gathering audience, traffic, and demographic data and for advertising units and measurements.

> Protect citizens media practitioners by seeking libel and liability insurance and by seeking, through courts and lobbying, to assure that the rights of a free press extend to citizens who create media online.

> Promote the medium with advertisers, marketers, media, and newsmakers.

Membership will be open to any creators of citizens’ media online. The association will be governed by an executive committee elected by the membership.

The Association will be supported by member dues and, if possible, a foundation grant to encourage the growth of this democratizing medium.

Next step: A meeting of volunteers to establish a steering committee and set its goals for drawing up a mission statement, bylaws, and a budget.

How’s that sound?