vonRonda Hauben 21.12.2008

Netizen Journalism and the New News

Exploring the impact of the net and the netizen on journalism and toward a more participatory form of citizenship.

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I very much appreciate the title “die Grande Dame des ‘Netizen’-Journalismus”. (See *note) This congratulations on the taz blogs is from one of the journalists I most admire. 

The award I received from the United Nations Correspondent’s Association is intended to encourage good journalism about the United Nations. Is there a good journalism that is now possible because of
the era of netizens and the Internet?

One characteristic of netizen journalism is that it is not limited to the concerns of one nation or bound by national borders. Hence, it is appropriate that netizen journalism concern itself with the international arena and with the United Nations.

Also it is appropriate that netizen journalism expose situations where the powerful camouflage their self serving aims. The false claim that the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 was due to Iraq’s Weapons of Mass Destruction was a glaring example of this phenomenon. Similar false claims, however, are common in other situations where countries endeavor to get support from the Security Council to achieve their narrow national policy objectives. The ability to see through such false narratives as they are being developed and to present an opposing viewpoint is another reason why the United Nations is an important venue for those interested in netizen journalism.

Another possible goal of netizen journalism is to report on the efforts to forge a more democratic model for society. At the United Nations, the activities in the General Assembly at times assume a democratic form. There are occasions when nations function as part of regional groups. The representation of each region rotates. Whether a nation is large or small, it will at some point become the representative of its region. Also there is a tradition of debates, where all nations can speak on the issues being considered.

Such participation in the work of the United Nations makes it possible for many nations to interact for peaceful purposes and to learn to work together toward common goals.

The effort to reform the Security Council has been ongoing for a number of years with little success. If there were more netizen media attention to the process, however, and more public debate on why such reform is needed, and on what form the reform should take, there would be more possibility for the success of this very difficult objective.

The current global financial crisis also demonstrates the need for alternative models.  This requires broad discussion and debate, as well as attention to both the problems of the old models and to the new alternatives that emerge.

The political and economic crisis that has developed in the U.S. and is spreading around the world is a sign of the need for more democratic participation in the decisions made in society.

Can a netizen journalism develop and spread that can make government officials take notice and recognize the need to welcome a broader range of input into their actions? Too often the term “democracy” is used to say people should vote periodically, often for candidates they have had little choice in selecting. The ancient Greeks, however, believed that democracy ended when voting began. Democracy involved discussion and debate to forge a decision making process.

The Internet and the era of the netizens once again makes such discussion and debate possible. 

For many who work at the United Nations, this institution represents a hope that a means can be found for nations and people to work together to solve their common problems. The Internet represents a similar hope for many netizens. The obstacles to such a vision, however, are many. There is a role for a netizen journalism that can help in the efforts toward realizing the fruition of such a vision, both for the United Nations and for the development of the Internet.

In this blog I hope to explore more systemmatically the need for such a netizen journalism.

* Note

UN-Preis für Ronda Hauben.

von Blogwart

Dass Ronda Hauben so etwas wie die Grande Dame des “Netizen”-Journalismus ist, wußten wir – ihr Buch “Netizens: On the History and Impact of Usenet and the Internet’ (1994) gilt als einer der Pionierstudien der Internet-Kommunikation. Für die internationale Ausgabe des weltweit größte Portal des Citizen-Journalismus, “OhMy News” in Süd-Korea, berichtet sie seit 2006 als UN-Korrespondentin aus New York. Für ihre “interessante und provokative Berichterstattung” wurde sie jetzt von der United Nations Correspondent’s Association mit dem “Elizabeth Neuffer Prize for Excellence in Journalism” ausgezeichnet. Die taz gratuliert – und empfiehlt die Lektüre der ausgezeichneten Artikel in Ronda Haubens tazblog “Netizen Journalism and the New News” .

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