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The Purpose of this Wiki
The rationale for this wiki is based in Yochai Benkler's articulations of the industrial-style mass-media journalism and the emergent networked public sphere, where Citizen Media and Open Journalism are showing up.
The current mood is one in which it could be possible to create a new style of networked journalism that is more productive and valuable for the Common. This new perspective has been shaped by many authors and communties, including, among multitudes of others:
- The Berkman Center for Internet and Society
- The Center for Citizen Media
- Creative Commons
- Dan Gillmor
- David Cohn
- Electronic Frontier Foundation
- Global Voices
- Jay Rosen
- Lawrence Lessig
- New Assignment.net
- The list could continue "ad infinitum," part of the beauty of the networked public sphere.
There is a sentiment in regular citizens, including us, of being increasingly marginal in leading and shaping political events. This sentiment doesn't just arise around political elections, but citizens are reacting to media either with distrust or with acts of blind faith. We are becoming more cynical of the public sphere or more fundamentalist. These sentiments are unhealthy and are not bringing out the best of humans: their enthusiasm to collaborate, to learn from each other, or to challenge together the frontiers of what is possible..
Our challenge here is to develop practices to allow Open Journalism not to necessarily get rid of traditional journalism but to compliment, challenge, and improve it. There is a perception that Open Journalism has a chance to build communities, to empower the Commons, as a way of dealing with some fundamental global problems -- in the domains of the environment, health, wealth, and more.
Revitalizing the Commons we belong will support and project the voices of different communities, sharpen and shape their language, and the interest the communities have about their language. Currently, we claim that there are "criminal" acts occurring to our language. An example of an action which we claim was damaging to language was the proposed Clear Skies Act, which suggested by its title would make the skies cleaner, but would instead allow millions of tons of more pollution than the EPA proposal. Such an act damages language in that it rends it meaningless. One of our interests in Open Journalism is to build an appreciation and care for the language that we use in constructing the worlds we live in.
Open Journalism has the chance to educate, produce a more engaged and better quality journalism, and to become a force shaping entrepreneurial initiatives of social collectives.
How do we think about journalism to deal with our above concerns?
If journalism makes a promise to "say the truth," then either we are very naive about our intent, we are lying, we are philosophically wrong, or we are you are out of place by pretending to be the "eyes of God." We propose that our role as open journalists is both more humble and more practical. Basically, we think that our role is to reveal events and issues that affect different collectives that belong to our global community, and to help them to articulate their unique and singular perspective in a larger, controversial debate, that shapes how that particular event is perceived, is lived, and how it affects the future of this larger community.
We know there is no fundamental truth, there is no objective truth, and there are no facts without the theory in which the facts live. We claim that there is no escape for journalists but to take responsibility for the articulation he/she is producing. A journalist cannot claim objectivity, get rid of that responsibility and give it to some illusion of the perfect observer, because a perfect observer is not our task; it is an illusion.
The interesting challenge for the open journalist is how an event is constituted in multiple collectives that have different approaches, values, priorities, concerns, and so on. We can collaborate and struggle with our larger community in fundamental subjects for which we have very extended consensus and agreement in our hearts. The larger community thinks that poverty is bad. We think the fragmentation of the world is bad. We think that crime and drugs and the collapsing of social habitats is problematic. We are clear that violence and war are a painful and wasteful part of our existenc e. And so we want to eliminate wars and violence as much as we can in order to have a healthy communal life. We know that the environment holds our life. And we are not only a community of humans, we are a community of humans and non-humans. We have a large consensus on these values, but, at the same time, we are also resigned about them. We know humans can produce miraculous things when we have a common purpose. Unfortunately our politicians can produce common purposes out of war and destruction and not out of creativity.
So the thing we find interesting is that the open journalist is the guy who is responsible for revealing the multiplicity in a way that is intelligible and consistent with shared values. And these journalists are willing to show emerging new views that can allow us to escape from the uniformity produced by the already exhausted model of political elite, corporate elite, and mass media.
We see Open Journalism as the journalism:
- of acceptance (of the different perspectives of the numerous collectives and communties),
- which defines critical challenges and opportunities
- that invests energy in articulating collectives' conversations which may bring meaningful and valuable changes.