Citizen journalism and open records

I’m starting to build a section of links on citizen journalism–the use of blogs, wikis, message boards and other forms of online communication that enable regular people to start stories that aren’t being covered or to build on and enrich stories that have more detail than can comfortably fit into a newspaper.

 Stories about open records or FOIA requests fit right into that category.

 Many open records requests turn into Icelandic sagas with twists and turns and denials and new filings and an ever-growing cast of characters.

 What better way to convey all the complexities in manageable doses than on a blog, as the events are happening?

If you don’t start telling your story until you are six months in and have a big jumble of papers on your desk, you’re going to have an extra-hard time helping people see the thread of your story.

There are plenty of “citizen FOIAers” already out there who aren’t yet using blogs to tell their stories, and there are plenty of bloggers who pay close attention to local and state politics who haven’t thought about starting to use FOIA requests.

 When these two communities come together, it’ll be powerful.

Amy Gahran and the Knight Citizen News Network are leaders in the mission of helping people figure out how to be effective citizen journalists.


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