New technology lets anyone be a multimedia journalist

The other day I was browsing the Web and came across a really cool new type of interactive Web site. (I apologize, but I can’t recall where/what I was reading that led me to this site).

:Vocalo.org is a Web site, based out of Chicago, that allows anyone to use their site and essentially make their own multimedia product. For example, using your phone at home, you can call in and leave a message detailing your favorite story. You can upload video, interviews, commentary and more. The site even offers audio trainings and online audio tips.

The site’s main belief seems to be in citizen journalism and the First Amendment.

You can be Famous! You can be Heard! Vocalo.org is YOUR radio station, YOUR website, YOUR community. Vocalo.org is about US. We believe that public conversation can make US better citizens. We believe that all of US know better than just some of us. We think that the crowd is indeed wise, so we are turning it all over to you. That’s a big responsibility. Huge. But we know that you’ve got this covered.

If the site really likes what you’ve produced, they’ll air it on their Chicago radio station or stream it online.

Part of why they believe so strongly in the First Amendment and all that jazz is because the site was founded by Chicago Public Radio, WBEZ, in 2007. According to one article I read on Current.org about the logic behind :Vocalo, the site was started to challenge the core fundamentals of public radio. Mainly the question of is a public radio station necessary?

If public broadcasting loses its vitality, the reason won’t be that new technologies have swept away the radio tower and the need for wide-reaching wireless media. The cause will be our own rigidity in neglecting to join broadcasting with new media that can enliven and enhance the content we produce. We have effectively disconnected from those we are mandated to serve. Until we wrestle our content out of the vise of tradition, we will be incapable of helping our communities ignite the ideas that support their evolution.

Radio and the Internet each offer a unique kind of access to information, and both are necessary for listeners to join the civic conversation and be heard.

Though the Internet is known for creating communities that transcend geography, it is local radio broadcasting that connects us to the places we live, work, participate in society and become citizens. That’s important because geographic place is citizenship’s universe. Only place allows for citizenship.

I find this idea quite fascinating. This site is almost like a blog for public radio. Ordinary citizens can make their own shows which perhaps will reach a wider range of people than shows thought up by the public radio employees.

It will be very interesting to see how this idea develops. In regard to newspapers, I would say citizen journalism has hurt the business in a lot of ways. Yes, it is fascinating and interesting to read blogs and reports by non-journalists. Yet because of them, people are even less likely to read their newspaper.

I am, however, a firm believer that the more voices we have out there the better news and the media will be. More stories will be covered, even if there are less employed reporters out there.

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