The term citizen media refers to forms of content produced by private citizens who are otherwise not professional journalists. Citizen journalism, participatory media and democratic media are related principles.
Principles of citizen media
Citizen media is a term coined by Clemencia Rodriguez, who defined this concept as 'the transformative processes they bring about within participants and their communities.' Citizen media refers to the ways in which audiences can also become participants in the media using the different resources offered. In the modern age, new technologies have brought about different media technologies which became the ground for citizen participation.
There are many forms of citizen-produced media including blogs, vlogs, podcasts, digital storytelling, community radio, participatory video and more, and may be distributed via television, radio, internet, email, movie theatre, DVD and many other forms. Many organizations and institutions exist to facilitate the production of media by private citizens including, but not limited to, Public, educational, and government access (PEG) cable tv channels, Independent Media Centers and community technology centers.
Citizen media has bloomed with the advent of technological tools and systems that facilitate production and distribution of media. Of these technologies, none has advanced citizen media more than the Internet. With the birth of the Internet and into the 1990s, citizen media has responded to traditional mass media's neglect of public interest and partisan portrayal of news and world events. Media produced by private citizens may be as factual, satirical, neutral or biased as any other form of media but has no political, social or corporate affiliation.
By 2007, the success of small, independent, private journalists began to rival corporate mass media in terms of audience and distribution. Citizen produced media has earned higher status and public credibility since the 2004 US Presidential elections and has since been widely replicated by corporate marketing and political campaigning. Traditional news outlets and commercial media giants have experienced declines in profit and revenue which can be directly attributed to the wider acceptance of citizen produced media as an official source of information.
Many people prefer the term 'participatory media' to 'citizen media' as citizen has a necessary relation to a concept of the nation-state. The fact that many millions of people are considered stateless and often without citizenship limits the concept to those recognised only by governments. Additionally the very global nature of many participatory media initiatives, such as the Independent Media Center, makes talking of journalism in relation to a particular nation-state largely redundant as its production and dissemination do not recognise national boundaries.
A different way of understanding Citizen Media emerged from cultural studies and the observations made from within this theoretical frame work about how the circuit of mass communication was never complete and always contested, since the personal, political, and emotional meanings and investments that the audience made in the mass-distributed products of popular culture were frequently at odds with the intended meanings of their producers.
Modes of citizen media
The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) in the United States initiated by the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967 sets aside some public broadcasting funding for producing electronic television programming. Traditionally, PBS radio affiliates have not made concessions for private citizen programming or production.
- Stations like WBAI, KPFA, KPFK, and Pacifica Radio Network have program models which allow citizen participation in aspects of the station, including production.
- Many low power Federal Communications Commission (FCC) non-commercial educational (NCE) license holders are considered community radio stations (including high school radio and college radio), with various levels of participation by the public.
With the birth of cable television in the 1950s came public interest movements to democratize this new booming industry. Many countries around the world developed legislated means for private citizens to access and use the local cable systems for their own community-initiated purposes.
- Public Access Television (PEG) in the United States is a government mandated model that provides citizens within a cable franchised municipality to get access to the local Public-access television channels to produce and distribute their own programming. Public-access television programming is community initiated and serves as a platform to meet local needs.
- Community channels in Canada also provides access for citizens to distribute their own programming content, as well as community television in Australia.
- Community technology centers are private non-profit organizations found in the US that serve to increase access and training in technology for social applications.
Affordable consumer technology and broader access to the internet has created new electronic distribution methods. While the corporate media market enjoyed a long period of monopoly on media distribution, the internet gave birth to countless independent media producers and new avenues for delivering content to viewers.
- The technological development of Content Management Systems (CMS) in the late 1990s, which allowed non-technical people to author and publish articles to the internet, spawned the birth of weblogs or blogs, Podcasting (audio blogs), Vlogs (video blogs), collaborative wikis, and web-based bulletin boards and "forums".
- Citizen Journalism websites which encourage members of the public to publish news that is relevant to them.
- The social development of Independent Media Centers (IMCs) introduced collaborative Citizen media with concepts of consensus decision making, mandatory inclusion of women and minorities, non-corporate control, the anonymous accreditation. IMCs have been founded in over 200 cities all over the world.
- Commercial models that use these new methods are being born and acquired by media corporations on a daily basis.
- we can see some examples about citizen press like http://mwatenpress.com CMS in Arabic language.
Participatory video is an approach to and medium of participatory or citizen media that has become increasingly popular with the falling cost of film/video production, availability of simple consumer video cameras and other equipment, and ease of distribution via the Internet.
Although videos/films can be produced by a single individual, production often requires a group of participants. And, so participatory filmmaking includes a set of techniques to involve communities/groups in conceptualizing and producing their own films. Chris Lunch, a preeminent contemporary author on participatory video and executive director of Insight, explains that “The idea behind this is that making a video is easy and accessible, and is a great way of bringing people together to explore issues, voice concerns, or simply to be creative and tell stories.”
Participatory video was developed in opposition to more traditional documentary film approaches, in which indigenous knowledge and local initiatives are filmed and disseminated by outside professional filmmakers. These professionals, who are often from relatively privileged backgrounds use their artistic license to design narrative stories and interpret the meaning of the images/actions that they film. As such, the film is often created for the benefit of outsiders and those that are filmed rarely benefit from their participation. The objectives of participatory video are to facilitate empowerment, community self-sufficiency, and communication.
The first experiments in PV were the work of Don Snowden, a Canadian who pioneered the idea of using media to enable a people-centered community development approach. Then Director of the Extension Department at Memorial University of Newfoundland, Snowden worked with filmmaker Colin Low and the National Film Board of Canada's Challenge for Change program to apply his ideas in Fogo Island, Newfoundland, a small fishing community.
By watching each other’s films, the villagers realized that they shared many of the same concerns and they joined together to create solutions. The villager’s films were shared with policy-makers, many of whom had no real conception of the conditions in which Fogo Islanders lived. As a result of this dialogue, policy-makers introduced regulation changes. Snowden went on to apply the Fogo process all over the world until his death in India in 1984. Since then, most of the development of the participatory video technique has been led by non-academic practitioners in the United Kingdom, France, Australia, and Canada.
Participatory video can be particularly effective when utilized in addressing community health concerns.
- Alternative Views
- Citizen journalism
- City wiki
- Community Media Association
- Community Radio
- Democratic media
- Independent Media Center
- Independent World Television
- Learner generated context
- Mass Amateurization
- Media democracy
- Radical media
- Meikle Graham, Networks of Influence: Internet Activisim in Australia and Beyond" in Gerard Goggin (ed.)Virtual Nation: the Internet in Australia University of New South Wales Press, Sydney, pp 73-87.
- Peter Leyden, New Politic Institute 
- Flew, Terry "New Media: An Introduction". Oxford University Press, Melbourne.
- The more proper "fora" is rarely used in this context.
- Lunch, N., & Lunch, C. (2006). Insights Into Participatory Video: A Handbook for the Field (1st ed.). Oxford: Insight.
- Lunch, C. (2004). Participatory Video: Rural People Document their Knowledge and Innovations. Indigenous Knowledge Notes; 71.
- Quarry, Wendy. The Fogo Process: An Experiment in Participatory Communication. 1994: Thesis, University of Guelph.
- Schugurensky, Daniel (2005). "Challenge for Change launched, a participatory media approach to citizenship education". History of Education. The Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto (OISE/UT). Retrieved 2009-10-16.
- Lunch, C. (2006, March). Participatory Video as a Documentation Tool. Leisa Magazine, 22, 31-33.
- Catalani, Caricia. (2006). Videovoice Theory. Accessed at http://video-voice.org/theory.html on Oct 18, 2007.
- The VideoVoice Collective does research and evaluation on participatory video.
- Center for Citizen Media
- Media Democracy Day
- Media Democracy Project
- Center for Media and Democracy
- Demosphere Project — The wiki & global project to develop a community based media framework using open source and interactive software. (Wikinews article)
- McChesney, Robert, Making Media Democratic, Boston Review, Summer 1998
- Inclusion Through Media: First hand accounts and critical analysis of work across the Inclusion Through Media prgramme edited by Tony Dowmunt, Mark Dunford and Nicole van Hemert.