Brevity is the soul of….

In his shortest post ever — and they said it couldn’t be done — Jay Rosen defines citizen journalism:

When the people formerly known as the audience employ the press tools they have in their possession to inform one another, that’s citizen journalism.

Looks good to me. I think this fits into new definitions of journalism, which can now be collaborative, which is becoming more a process than a product, which is omnimedia.

  • Pithier:

    “Now that we all buy ink by the barrel, don’t mess with us Sonny Boy.”

  • Hey, you’re right! and the link is


  • What’s funny: Trying to define “journalism” is much harder.

    Best definition I’ve come up with.

    The gathering, filtering and distribution of information.

    Most encyclopedic definitions are usually circular “journalism is communication performed by journalists.”

    I think the more we start thinking of journalism as a process – the more it becomes easier to see and accept what citizen journalism is. When people are part of that process.

  • Thanks, Jeff. I have been observing you make this observation about “process, not a product.” I fear you are not explaining that very well. It sounds like a dreadful cliche from a lackluster education consultant or a one of them professional facilitators or something. What does it mean, anyway? Can’t you use a more elegent term, like “flow?”

  • Jay,

    I think “flow” is too passive — the river that passes by and no one dare jump in and swim.

    “Product” says that is is finished and done: in our case, the world wrapped up in a box with a bow. News is never done.

    “Process” is something many are involved in in many ways. I drew the chart or it here:

  • digidave —

    I have no problem with the “gathering, filtering, distribution” part but “information” must be wrong. Journalism is narrower, working on a particular type of “information,” not non-fiction generally. Your overbroad definition covers a librarian or a database cruncher or an academic researcher or someone working for the Census Bureau — none of whom is a journalist.

    The type of information a journalist works with must be “news” — developments that are unusual, unprecedented, unpredictable, innovative, remarkable, controversial — and it should also serve some sort of function in civil society. The latter is a wide spectrum ranging from the lofty, such as holding a democratic government accountable, to the trivial, providing diverting details that can lubricate a morning’s converstaion around the watercooler. Yet however wide that spectrum is, a journalist’s work has to have that civic element, otherwise it is no more than flackery, publicity, promotion or propaganda.

  • Shorter still: How about making “news” a verb? “Newsing” sounds no worse than “blogging.”

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