Beers, David. "The Public Sphere and Online, Independent Journalism." Canadian Journal of Education/ Revue canadienne de l'education. 29 (1): 109-130
Beers, the founder of The Tyee, a civic journalism website discusses civic journalism as a tool in education that will fulfill Habermas's ideal of the public sphere, a place where public debate can take place. Beers asserts that media should act as a transparent informant where debate is fostered, rather than a tool of manipulation of those who take part in the public sphere. Beers discusses cross ownership in the Canadian markets and says that homogenized content is not only the result of fewer voices creating more content but also a result of advertisers manipulation of the market to suit their wants and needs. Having a subjective perspective on a story is not problematic, as most media outlets have an agenda, citizen journalism included. The problem is when there is only one agenda being pushed. Beers identifies two types of alternative news, those who exist in context of media conglomerates, whose purpose is to counter the corporate media consensus. And then there are those alternative media sites who exist to serve a niche and/or marginalized market. Beers goes on to outline three types of alternative news media: 1) E-zine news media; 2) the blogosphere; 3) open publishing sites. He also goes onto to explain the challenges that these alternative media forums face such as establishing creditiblity, an audience and gathering resources.
Beers paper is relevant in my discussion of citizen journalism in how he separates the different types of sites. The structure of a blog can have different consequences and render a different audience than an opening publishing site. It can also complicate the ethical arguments surrounding citizen journalism: what are the responsibilities of a citizen journalist if any and who is responsible in the case of misinformation? Many of Beers claims of cross ownership and homogenized content in Canada reflect the circumstances of the United States of America presented in Klinenberg's book, Fighting for Air: The Battle to Control America's Media. The similarities are striking and help show the gravity of the situation as well at he internationality of it.
Drezner, Daniel W. & Farrell, Henry. "Web of Influence". Foreign Policy 145 (2004): 32-40
Drenzel and Henry focus on the power of the blog medium for citizen journalism. Blogs are increasingly acting as catalysts for the mainstream media content. As many other articles have cited, the blog world's attention to Trent Lott's racist commentary is what forced the mainstream media to take notice and provide coverage. Blogging has become so popular now that even mainstream media sources are employing professional bloggers which may be a bit oxymoronic. Drezner and Farrell express concern over these professional mainstream bloggers overpowering the independent bloggers, suggesting that blogging is something that should belong to the people, not the professional. Blogging is positioned as an adjunct to transnational networking, allowing foreign news to spread fast and far. With the decrease in international press coverage (especially in the USA), blogs written by foreigners help keep the international community connected.
In some cases, bloggers even have an advantage in matters of international coverage. Drezner and Farrell give North Korea as an example, saying that journalists are not allowed entry and when permitted entry are watched closely. A citizen of NK (although blog sites have been censored) or even a non North Korean's ability to enter and comment on the conditions of the state is essential in international news coverage, especially coverage of a state that does not allow foreign press. Countries like Iran, North Korea and China exercise web censorship to prevent their citizens from accessing foreign blogs or creating their own blogs but there are always ways around these things. The point being that established and familiar news sources are easily blocked but blogging and the internet itself creates a useful alternative.
What i think is most interesting is that Drezner and Farrell position blogs as a watchdog for mainstream media, in opposition to omission of information or misinformation. In addition to being an independent news source, blogs are really presented as a part of the whole field of journalism, participating in a sort of checks and balances. If this is a major role that blogs are expected to occupy, the move of traditional media sources into the blogosphere, potentially displacing independent bloggers, would elimininate those checks and balances which could have dangerous repercussions.