PBS project seeks to engage, train local citizen journalists

By: The Gazette editorial
September 20, 2013 Updated: September 20, 2013 at 9:15 am
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One of the many changes that journalism has seen in last decade is the phenomenon of "citizen journalism." Readers who once solely relied on the press to inform them now have access to the tools that they need to tell their stories and foward-thinking media outlets encourage their blog posts, videos, tweets and comments.

Although critics of this type of information allege that it can be rough and unprofessional, we see value in multifaceted views, particularly when they are from those living the stories that they report.

"I think that public media can play an integral role in creating a platform for telling stories that would otherwise go untold," says Amanda Mountain, executive director of Tim Gill Center for Public Media.

The Gazette has always been a strong advocate for citizen journalism to supplement the outstanding journalism that comes from our newsroom. Seven years ago, the newspaper launched "Your Hub" a publication with unique content created by the community. Residents could post their stories, photos, blogs or events online. Gazette editors then pulled content that would appear in several zoned publications.

The concept has evolved and the publication is called Fresh-Ink, but the idea of citizen journalists' contributions being the core product remains the same.

This is why The Gazette is so pleased to be a partner in the Citizen and Student Journalism Contest, "Raise Your Voice", sponsored by the Tim Gill Center for Public Media and led by the Rocky Mountain PBS and the Pikes Peak Library District. The contest has several age and skill categories giving citizen and student journalists of all ages an opportunity to display their abilities in storytelling, via various media.

The judges are looking for stories that reflect the community. They are looking for stories that reflect local neighborhoods, perhaps about an individual in the community who is making a difference, a struggling business owner, etc. Submissions will be accepted through Dec. 6. In its first year, the contest will be open to residents of El Paso, Teller, and Pueblo counties. Winners will be announced at a reception in January. Winning entries will be published by media partners and awarded a cash prize.

This project has a special component: training. During the next few months, there will be workshops and panel discussions, featuring professional journalists, designed to help the community understand journalism and its many forms: written, video, audio and photographical. These sessions will instruct and encourage participants to submit their work for the contest. There will be sessions on identifying sources, understanding journalism ethics and finding an audience. There's a complete schedule of the workshops at: http://www.rmpbs.org/timgillcenter/journalism-contest-2013/.

Nearly every library in El Paso County will have content creation centers where the public can access free editing software and technical assistance.

In the coming weeks, you will see more information about the contest in our pages and other local media. Don't miss out on this opportunity to share your stories.

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