The Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity has started an initiative to enlist and support "citizen journalists." The program is called "Citizen Watchdog." Their objective is to build an organization of citizen journalists to watch and report real-time on issues and events at the local, state, and regional levels.
On January, 19, 2013, The Franklin Center and Americans for Prosperity (AFP) jointly sponsored a citizen journalist training session in Warren, MI. Over 200 concerned citizens attended the day long event. Participants learned about this new initiative, utilizing social media (e.g., Twitter, Facebook, blogging) to report and communicate, and journalist resources and communication avenues. This WatchDog program is national in its roll out, but is focusing on local, state, and regional reporting since national reporting is covered by other channels.
Scott Hagarstrom (AFP, MIchigan) showed the audience the power of real time, local reporting as he used visuals to illuminate what really went on at the recent tent razing in Lansing during the unions' Right to Work protests. Happenings at the event went national very quickly. One thing to learn from the event is the increasing need for self provided security and visual documentation through pictures and movies. Ordinary citizens made the difference in this story.
Anyone may participate and make use of their reporting platform designed to expand the reach and audience for aspiring citizen journalists. Quick Tweets, occasional blogging, dedicated reporting all fall under the activities umbrella. One point worth noting is that information sent into the WatchDog channels will get a "hyper boost" in distribution through the group's expanded media channels and contacts. Having personally attended the January event in Warren, this seems like a worthwhile effort, something that the individual or group can participate in. This is a forum for both beginners and experienced writers and chroniclers.
Knowledge is power and knowledge begins with good and timely information.
Franklin Center -- Franklin Center Web Site
Citizen WatchDog -- WatchDog Web Site
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