Raging Chicken Launches
Journalists, professional (paid) ones, still like to disparage "citizen journalism," though it has been half a decade since citizen journalists rocketed into American media consciousness, pushing aside some of the moribund aspects of traditional journalism, injecting a new enthusiasm into the fourth estate, providing new means of reaching readers, and making what had once been primarily a one-way conduit into a round-robin of conversation. There's still a sense, in some quarters, that the professionals are somehow "better" than the "citizens"--or that a distinction between the two is unneeded. But the professionals have only shown they are "better" in terms of training, not performance, and the distinction allows the dedicated amateur to keep away from the monetary motivation of those who depend on activity in journalism to keep bread on the table.
ePluribus Media, since its founding five years ago, has been an important forum for, and promoter of, citizen journalism. We speak out loudly on those issues that bring us to our own citizen journalism, provide tools that citizen journalists can use to improve the stories they produce, and promote other sites engaging in citizen journalism.
Another of these, Raging Chicken Press, launched this week, proving that citizen journalism continues to be a strong contributor to our local, state, and national discourses. The nay-sayers may continue to rage against the amateurs, but it is the amateurs who now provide the dynamic in American journalism--even though the professionals (look at what has happened to Huffington Post) continue to try to horn in.
One of the things Raging Chicken is doing is acting as an unusual sort of aggregator. I first found out about the project when Kevin Mahoney, its editor, asked if he could take a couple of posts on education from my personal blog and combine them into a longer piece to run on Raging Chicken. Of course, I said yes (to me, anything I write on any blog can be used anywhere else, as long as attribution is given). Instead of just linking, Raging Chicken is combining, taking what it finds elsewhere and crafting it into something new.
Mahoney tries to make sure that Raging Chicken keeps at least one eye on issues local to eastern Pennsylvania and another on the state. One of the first lead articles deals with Kutztown University, where I once taught and where Mahoney still teaches. It's a personal piece of journalism with no pretense to that mythical "objectivity" that devils so much of professional journalism. Mahoney uses his own years at the university to explore higher education in Pennsylvania and in the broader United States, and to examine how American "class warfare" is affecting schools such as KU. He ends with an exhortation to action:
Our only hope is to organize and to say no to hucksters. To remember that the Capitol is our house, that democracy is not a spectator sport, and what’s at stake is our future and the future of our children. No more excuses. Off the couch.
His call for political participation is also the call he is answering, through Raging Chicken, to citizen journalism.
Another of the front-page articles, by Wendy Lee, is an open letter to Pennsylvania governor Tom Corbett. She says to him, that your:
agenda is unconscionable, and it is premised on the erroneous view that the budget deficit is the product of funding for public services and goods. It is not. Rather, it’s the result of licentious gratuities to corporate entities—some from whom you directly benefit.
This is what citizen journalism should be. Not standing back passively and describing, but moving in and grappling, and trying to change.
ePluribus Media, as one of the founding institutions of the current citizen-journalism movement, is proud to welcome another sister entity to the fray, to the struggle towards a re-taking of journalism by the very people it is supposed to serve, the citizenry.