Saturday, April 05, 2008

Richmond leading nation in 'citizen journalism'

Last week, the following report from was received by email from Jeff South, Associate Professor School of Mass Communications, Virginia Commonwealth University. It is being reprinted with his permission:
Greetings from LA, where I am at "Media Re:Public," a conference convened by the University of Southern California's Annenberg School for Communication and Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet & Society. The focus here is on participatory media -- especially citizen journalism. And guess which city ranked No. 1 for citizen journalism Web sites?

Richmond, by far and away.

In fact, I'm at a session right now about a report that the Project for Excellence in Journalism has just completed on such sites. It says:

Richmond, Virginia, was the most developed community of citizen journalism sites in the sample. Richmond has 16 citizen journalism sites, 10 of which were citizen neighborhood news sites, two were neighborhood blog sites, two were blog sites that addressed the Richmond area, one was a news aggregator for Richmond, and one was a blog aggregation site. Of particular interest are the neighborhood sites that have very similar “About Us” statements and that link to each other.

According to a statement on the Greater Fulton News, the neighborhood sites can be traced to John Murden, who set up the Church Hill People’s News in August 2004. The Greater Fulton News, which was established with a grant from the New Voice Program at the J-Lab with help from Richmond news media, wrote: “The programming and format of this site is based on work by John Murden, who started Richmond’s first community news blog, Church Hill People’s News, and who has helped launch other community news blogs in the Richmond area.”

One of the scholars who wrote the report is Margaret Duffy of the University of Missouri School of Journalism. Moments ago, she said, "Richmond, Virginia, we found, is just a hotbed of citizen journalism."

So kudos to John, Ross, Terry, Bill and the other pioneers of citizen journalism in Richmond -- and to the leaders at the Fulton Hill Neighborhood Resource Center and all of the other people who have helped build such vibrant news blogs.

Better hit send -- I'm supposed to speak next. If you want to know more about the conference, [click here].

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