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South African citizen media project on training citizen journalists

By David Silverberg
Posted Mar 23, 2010 in Internet
"In terms of citizen journalism, it's becoming ever more clear that even a modest amount of training goes a long way." This is a statement by Harry Dugmore, a winner of the 2008 Knight News Challenge. His project is Iindaba Ziyafika based in South Africa, allowing local news to be disseminated easily through cellphones.
Now he's discussing on MediaShift Idea Lab his recent work educating citizen journalists in South Africa, addressing the importance of training the journos. He believes 20 hours of training is a practical amount of time to dedicate to citizen media training. "This training must build on a selection process that helps find the kind of people who have what we believe are core journalism aptitudes: curiosity, a desire to change things, and the ability to persevere where others would give up!" he writes.
He also introduces another intriguing idea: "We've also decided to allow the most skilled and enthusiastic members of our first adult citizen journalist graduating class of 2009 to attend Grocott Mail's daily 8.30 a.m. news meetings." It's a smart move, since newspaper meetings can be replete with the brainstorming and journalism-speak every writer should hear.
Dugmore adds another noteworthy tidbit (in another post): "..for citizen journalism to be meaningful, trainees have to imbibe and even embrace the norms of news journalism. As contested as these norms are, there are some baselines to adhere to: telling the story with some narrative comprehensiveness, for example the classic 'who, what, where and when' of a basic news report; and having at least a stab at objectivity and fairness."
What do you think? Do you think citizen journalist training should be emphasized in more newsrooms?

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