By the People: The Role of Citizen Journalism in the Information Revolution

Citizen journalists are becoming a potent force for building open and democratic societies. Today, a single smart phone offers the public a journalist’s tool box that just a few years ago cost thousands of dollars and filled a car trunk. Citizen journalists can provide a corrective, alternative view that exposes corruption, fosters accountability, and documents abuses of power. However, they can also be tools of government propaganda, as in Syria and China, where loyalists have flooded social media sites and blogs with pro-regime sentiment. Citizen journalism also poses a problem for advocates of quality, accuracy, and objectivity, as they typically lack formal training or knowledge of the essential roles independent media play in ensuring accountable and transparent government. Panelists explored the growth of citizen journalism, its impact on independent media, and the challenges for media development trainers.

Yehia Ghanem

International Center for Journalists ᛫ @ICFJ

Anahi Ayala Iacucci [PRESENTATION]



We Media ᛫ @wemedia

Jane Sasseen

Author, The Video Revolution@janesasseen

 Moderated by:

Adam Clayton Powell III

University of Southern California ᛫ @USC_CCLP

About the speakers:

Yehia Ghanem is country director for Egypt with the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ), overseeing its program training professional and citizen journalists to cover their local communities. The program has been on hold since the Egyptian government’s crackdown on foreign-funded non-governmental organizations began in December 2011. Ghanem and four colleagues at ICFJ (three Americans and one other Egyptian) were charged in the crackdown, and the trial against them is ongoing. Before becoming country director for ICFJ, Ghanem was a trainer in ICFJ’s previous program for citizen journalists, which trained 80 citizen journalists, many of whom became leaders in covering the Arab Spring uprising. Ghanem has a long journalism career in print and electronic media, including with Al-Ahram, Al-Hayat, Egyptian Radio, and Egyptian Television and Radio. An experienced war correspondent, he has covered conflicts in the Balkans, Yemen, Afghanistan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. He earned his bachelor’s degree in journalism from Cairo University.

Anahi Ayala Iacucci is Internews’ innovation advisor for Africa, specializing in information and communication technologies for development (ICT4D), crisis mapping, and the use of new technologies to overcome communication barriers. Iacucci is co-founder of the Standby Task Force, an online volunteer community for live mapping, which managed the LibyaCrisisMap project, in collaboration with the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in March 2011. She was also a technical advisor for Freedom House for an Ushahidi project monitoring elections in Egypt in 2010 though social media. Iacucci is the co-author of several publications on crisis mapping and disaster response, crowdsourcing applied to health issues, and the role of social networks in today’s media environment. She is based in Nairobi, Kenya.

Dale Peskin is co-founder and chief knowledge officer of We Media, a global innovation agency committed to harnessing the power of media, communication, and human ingenuity for the common good. A pioneer in digital and social media, Peskin coined the term “we media” in 2002 to express how the democratization of media would transform news media. Previously, Peskin was the executive director of New Directions for News (NDN), a think tank that forecast changes in how technology and society impact news. Prior to joining NDN, he was a vice president of Belo, a Dallas-based media company, where he launched the company’s initiatives in new media and media convergence. At Belo, Peskin served as editor of and as an assistant managing editor of the Dallas Morning News. He was a founding officer of Belo Interactive, Belo’s network of news Web sites. Peskin has served as deputy managing editor of the Detroit News and the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, and managing editor of the Tribune Chronicle (Ohio). Peskin’s awards include the Newspaper Association of America’s Digital Edge Award for Pioneering Online Journalism, the Sigma Delta Chi Award, and four Gold Medals from the Society for News Design. He was part of the team at the Detroit News that won the Pulitzer Prize in 1996 for stories on corruption in state government.

Jane Sasseen is a freelance editorial consultant who has worked with numerous major non-profit and media organizations. Her work has spanned coverage of the global economy, U.S. politics and economic policy, and the future of media. She was an editor and co-author of several chapters of The State of the News Media 2012, the annual report on American journalism produced by The Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism. She previously served as editor-in-chief of the politics and opinion channels for Yahoo! News, the largest news site in the United States. Prior to joining Yahoo, she spent 15 years at BusinessWeek magazine, including stints running its news section and as its Washington bureau chief. Sasseen also worked as a journalist for nine years in Paris, first freelancing for Newsweek, the Christian Science Monitor, and others before joining London-based International Management magazine as a senior editor and Paris bureau chief. She is the recipient of the 1997 Gerald Loeb Award for financial journalism and the National Women’s Political Caucus 1997 Exceptional Merit Media Award.

About the moderator:

Adam Clayton Powell III is a senior fellow at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg Center for Communication Leadership and Policy and a university fellow at USC’s Center on Public Diplomacy, coordinating USC projects and forums in Washington, DC, on subjects ranging from public diplomacy and public service media to future business models for cultural institutions and arts journalism. Before his move to Washington in 2010, he served as USC’s vice provost for globalization, advancing the university’s globalization initiatives and expanding USC’s international presence throughout the world. Powell previously served as director of the USC Integrated Media Systems Center, the National Science Foundation’s center for multimedia research. Previous roles include vice president of the Freedom Forum; executive producer at Quincy Jones Entertainment; vice president for news and information programming at National Public Radio; and news manager and producer at CBS News in New York. He has worked extensively in Africa for more than two decades, and he has presented training programs since 1988 on digital media for journalists, educators, and policymakers in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the United States. Powell is a member of CIMA’s advisory council and the author of Bigger Cities, Smaller Screens: Urbanization, Mobile Phones, and Digital Media Trends in Africa.