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Bottom-up & open: theory and practice of innovative citizen journalism

Now that journalism has entered a digital era, programmers become more important. They pave the way of this development. But not alone. They work in cooperation with journalists. Together they develop new participatory formats that benefit from collaborative and open principles. Together they find audience-friendly solutions for the processing of increasingly large masses of data. Yet, as groundbreaking as this liaison may be, over the last 20 years it has not lost its avant-garde appeal. bottom-up & open (#buo) explores this potential as a standard for collaboration involving the citizens of the world.

Often programmers and journalists hinder each other, because both know too little about each other's work. Too, they see each other only as agents of their own vision, not as equal partners. On top of that the psychology of competition informs their relation – even more so in the age of media crisis. Does the programmer displace the journalist, because fully automated publishing formats emerge?

The potential for cooperation between journalists and programmers can only be exploited if they develop a shared vision at eye level. Both must learn to see through the eyes of the other and adapt their mindset. For example: Journalists could learn to work in a more process oriented way as programmers do in learning by doing and using trial and error methods. Programmers in turn could learn from journalists to do their work with a more profound sense of social and ethical responsibility.

This emerging collaboration model can serve as the blueprint for an open hierarchy of various specializations (activists, business etc.) and as a blueprint for a bottom-up process of education and professionalization: student, intern, professional. In short,  this may be a vision for the active cultivation of an innovative ecosystem in which all citizens play an active role.

In bottom-up & open (#buo), berlinergazette.de gathers actors from the broad field of citizen journalism. Beginning with a two-day hackathon-style workshop on May 4th and 5th (10 am-6 pm) and concluding in cooperation with re:campaign with a public talk at re:publica on May 6th at 6:30 pm. The goal is to initiate an exchange and learning process and to define common goals as well as projects in relation to two aspects:

  1. The ground-breaking innovations that results from the collaboration between journalists and programmers are brought forth only partially under the umbrella of large media companies and global IT corporations. Often the global players in the media industry only deploy what has already been developed and tested in citizen driven, bottom-up cultures. Here, the practise of sharing (Open Source, Creative Commons, etc.), peer-production (Wikipedia, etc.) and information freedom can help find common values  as well as grounds to promote their ideas.
  2.  As universal as the collaboration between programmers and journalists may be as a future trend – the trend in each region takes shape in different ways. Politics, society and culture are set up differently from area to area and pose a variety of challenges to the collaboration between journalists and programmers. Hence it is all about learning from regional best practice examples in order to contextualize the work of journalists and programmers in terms of political, social and cultural issues.
  • You can review the participants joining this project from Romania, Portugal, Serbia, Austria, Germany and Japan as well as the Berliner Gazette and Sourcefabric teams who are hosting the project on the Berliner Gazette website here.