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An Introduction To Citizen Journalism

It's flourishing around the country, and even in Idaho... but not in Boise


Don't get me wrong--I dig the Boise Community Radio Project, and you should, too. But in this embryonic station, currently little more than a stream on a Web site ( and a slew of optimistic volunteers, there's also something quite troubling.

That a college town like Boise is just now struggling to launch its first community radio station, at the time when the most popular new technologies are the ones that make radio obsolete, says a lot. It says we're a market that has historically been comfortable to live and die a passive audience--or, barring that, move to Portland. It says that many of us are content to complain about local media--be it interminable talk radio, that guy you hate in Boise Weekly or those out-of-touch stuffed shirts on the telly--but not try to change it or give it a run for its money.

Maybe you just slammed the paper closed on the table, tired of another preachy hand-wringer bemoaning everyone else's complacency. (If you did, you won't mind when I say that you smell like mustard and nobody likes you.) But if not, here's a reminder: At BW, we're the nice, independent local media. We like informed readers, and we even like competition ... sorta. So, for your betterment and our entertainment, we're presenting an inside look at a burgeoning movement of participatory or "citizen" journalism. These are the people who want to turn the news over to the audience, to let you decide what news you want to see and--more importantly--give you the tools to make it. (Here's a hint: They don't just pat you on the head and say, "Why doncha go start a nice little blog, sweetie.")

First, we introduce you to one of citizen journalism's charismatic missionaries, Dan Gillmor, author of the newly-in-paperback We the Media: Grassroots Journalism by the People, for the People, and an ideal case-study of all the good, the bad and the debatable issues that surround citizen journalism. Then, we take a look at Idaho's premier foray into citizen journalism, which has been empowering the airwaves up Moscow way for the last five months. If those two strike your fancy, there's also a heap of links to places to get published or get guidance on how to do it.

So ... do it already, dammit!

--Nicholas Collias