One depressing feature of the internet today is that there is exponentially more meta-commentary about the promise and potential of citizen journalism than there is actual, you know, citizen journalism. At least if you parse ‘journalism’ in any remotely traditional sense: fact-based, disinterested reporting.
One amazing exception is the Press Institute for Women in the Developing World. It’s a small non-profit founded by Cristi Hegranes, who was a summer fellow at Poynter and a reporter at SF Weekly before jumping ship to start her own thing.
Her background shows: The Press Institute distinguishes itself from other citizen-journalism ventures in that it mixes an egalitarian, grassroots spirit with an unusual dedication to the core values of journalism. The starting point of her organization’s work is training: The Press Institute takes citizens and makes them journalists.
You can see the result on PIWDW’s site. A pilot program in Mexico is up and running, with citizen journalists there writing stories every month. (Check ’em out at the top of this page — what a great group!)
A new program is slated to start in Nepal in March.
(Full disclosure: I am on PIWDW’s Board of Directors. I am also president of the Cristi Hegranes Fan Club.)