Okay, people. Gather 'round. It's time to get this Citizen Journalism show on the freakin' road. You say you're tired of memes or fiction exercises or rants or anything else cluttering up your Newsvine front page? Well guess what. You're not going to get rid of any of that stuff. Especially not by just whining about it or leaving nasty comments in the threads of those writing these articles. There's room for all that stuff here on Newsvine.
But, and that's a big BUT, we CAN change the balance of things. We all have our vision of what Newsvine is and should be. And not a one of those visions is exactly the same. But as we say in my house when someone whines about not having a clean pair of underwear or there's no bowls for ice cream because no one loaded the dishwasher, PUT UP OR SHUT UP.
That's right. Quitcher bitchin' and do something about it.
And to get you started, I shall present here a general idea, and I'll even toss out a few concrete suggestions and topics, free of charge. Why? Because I love you, that's why. And I love Newsvine.
Groups…they're there for more than just collecting seeds…so use them
Groups have many and sundry purposes, and in large measure are used appropriately. Here's an idea for how to use the group function:
Narrow down the field. Brian Ford has an excellent Citizen Journalism group that is a well-moderated catch-all for any original article written by a Newsvine Citizen Journalist. Let's take the concept and push it further. Create your own, original group specifically for original articles (NO SEEDS), with a specific topic.
An example: Say you love sitting with your grandfather or elderly great-aunt and listening to stories of the old days. You know that these stories should be written down, made part of history. Guess what? That's YOUR JOB. And, guess what else? There's 50,000 registered Newsvine users who also have elderly relatives or neighbors. There's a gazillion retirement/nursing homes filled to capacity with elderly people. And YOU are going to talk to them. You, and everyone you manage to get to join your group.
Start a group: "Back in My Day," you'll call it. Start interviewing your elderly relatives, even your not-so-elderly relatives, and write those interviews up in an article. Do a little research into the years during which the stories they tell you took place, and work that into the article to give a little background. Call up a local nursing home and request to visit. Trust me when I say that these people are lonely and would love to sit and talk with someone.
And, after you and all of your group members have talked to all the older people they can find, and have written up these articles/interviews, your group is going to hold a repository of oral history. And though this site seems to be U.S.-centric, there are plenty of international users. Did you know that other countries have old people too?
Think about collaborating on articles with other group members. Bring along a friend and get some photographs to adorn your story (see Ben Joseph's article about Citizen Photojournalism).
First person to leave a comment grabbing the above idea gets it. And be sure to send me an invite.
You're driving around town (and this happened to me the other day and I could kick myself for not taking 10 minutes to pull over and talk to these people) and there are a couple of middle-aged people with a card table and signs set up in front of your local post office. The signs proclaim "IMPEACH DICK CHENEY."
Fireworks go off in your brain. You stop, interview them about their ideas and their purpose and their opinions. Talk to people walking by and ask them what they think about this little 2-man protest. You race home and start a group called "HIPPIE PROTESTS--They're not just for the '68 Democratic Convention." You invite people to the group and ask them to scope out protests in their cities and towns. You all write articles (and definitely, get photos!). Is a presidential candidate coming to town to give a speech? GO! Listen to him or her speak, sure. But talk to the other people there. Talk to the people there who support the candidate, and talk to the people who do not.
Got a parent or an aunt or uncle who was young in the late sixties? Ask them about protests. Ask them what they thought of protests--get their stories.
And then? You'll have a written documentary of the history of political protest in the United States. How awesome would that be?
You don't even have to be a good writer to get involved here. You have an interest in something? Start the group. Recruit the writers and the researchers. Use the group talk function to present assignments and dole them out to your group members. Be the administrator and editor.
Look over the seeds that interested you enough to cause you to clip them to your column. What happened to that situation? You can follow up on it. Contact the people in the news story. Ask them. They might actually talk to you! You never know unless you try.
This is the time for us to pour more of our energy into Newsvine. The site is gaining attention not just all over the internet, but also in major magazines and newspapers. We've got to grab attention now, while we've got it. Let's not let the opportunities and tools presented by this site slip through our fingers.
So, who's in? Who has so many ideas they can't possibly do them all, and wants to throw them up for the first taker? Who has an idea that needs some refining--this community is great for helping each other to refine ideas. Who wants to announce the best idea EVER for a new group? Let me know--I want to hear it, I want to join your group and contribute.
Newsvine Citizen Journalism--let's do this thing.