An interesting discussion of citizen journalism

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This article is about how to use and credit photos and images gleaned from Facebook and Twitter, but it touches on the ethical responsibilities of citizen journalists:

When news breaks, many media organizations turn to social media to find members of the public who become a reporter’s eyes and ears on the ground.

Collecting information in this way has many challenges – for example, verifying that a photo posted on Twitter is real. The key to solving these challenges is holding contributions from citizen journalists to the same ethical standards as work by professional journalists.

That was the main focus of a SXSW Interactive session by Associated Press social media editor Eric Carvin and Digital First Media managing editor Mandy Jenkins.

“If you don’t hold citizen journalists to the same standards, you are disrespecting social media as a tool for journalism,” Carvin said. Figuring out the best way to apply those standards is the hard part.

 

I sometimes can give the impression that all bets are off when it comes to citizen journalism, or “people powered media.” Not true. We aren’t as constrained as the corporate media, but we have some ethical considerations.

Do Peoria Heights residents enjoy being a no-newspaper town?

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There is no newspaper focusing on Peoria Heights. The Village Voice? Gone. The Observer (later the Times-Observer)? Killed by GateHouse Media. I’m sure the government of there runs absolutely perfectly without ANY routine scrutiny from the public. Oh, sure, the Journal Star MIGHT pay attention if there’s something going on. But then, how would they KNOW if there is anything going on? Oh, well, it’s not like it would be easy for a concerned citizen or two to create an online newspaper. Oh, wait. It IS easy … http://blogpeoria.com/wp-signup.php

Donate please to a special project at The Blog Peoria Project

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There is this site called WPMUDEV.org. Basically, it’s a site that lets the owners of WordPress MultiSites (like the Blog Peoria Project super-size their sites. They offer a TON of themes and plugins that paid members offer to to their members. They also provide members with a ton of hands-on support and development. If you mention of plugin you would LIKE to see, they will work on it for you. They offer user manuals and special videos to explain to users how to best use their blogs/citizen journalism sites.

I would like to join this site and provide these services to my members.

But there is a cost involved.

A one month membership costs $39.60. this would give me time to get in, download the plugins, themes and videos. A quarterly membership costs $82.80 and would give me three months of special support, plus all the themes, plugins and videos. A one-year-long membership costs $235.20.

This gives me (and Blog Peoria’s intrepid citizen journalists) 350+ premium plugins, themes, downloads, updates, new releases and 24/7/365 support for anything WordPress.

Go check out their Website to check out what they offer.

If you are so inclined, make a donation. As soon as I get $40, I’m buying the monthly membership and downloading the plugins and themes.

It’s best that you tweek your photos in Photoshop before you upload them to Blog Peoria

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Seriously. Go HERE and download your FREE version of Photoshop CS2. This is a version of the program that was released by Adobe. Go ahead. It’s legal. When I started blogging, I had to manually install about 20 3.35 floppy disks MANUALLY and it was as illegal as HELL. But it was worth it, because Photoshop is THE premier photo manipulation software. It is the gold standard.

OK, now here’s a “come to Jesus” discussion about photos on your Website.

Bigger is not better. If you have a newer camera, it can probably take pictures with about 12 megapixels. That is way, way, way too large for a Website. Lower your camera settings to about 640px or 320px.

Now upload your photos to your computer. Open one of the photographs you want to upload to Photoshop.You need to change the image size to something that will fit in your theme:

photoshop_advice1

 

What I do, is I right click on the bar above the image (or I go to “Image” in the tool bar, then go down and click on “Image size.”  When the “Image Size” dialog box appears, I click on the “Constrain proportions” check box (not visible in this photo, but it’s there) and then I manually enter the width in pixels that I want. I find that 500 pixels is plenty wide for the theme I use. You may need to set it at 450 or 400 pixels. You will find that the “Height” value automatically changes (that’s because you clicked the “constrain proportions” check box.

Now, you’ll want to save this version for the web:

photoshop_advice2

 

See? Easy peasy.

Then:

photoshop_advice3

Select “jpeg”, “medium” and “30″ for quality. Then click “save.”  You will be prompted to name the image. Pick one you can easily remember and remember what internal file you are saving it to on your computer.

Then use the “Add Media” button in WordPress to manually add the photograph. Be sure to use the “attachment display settings” in the dialog box to select the image size you want.You may just want to run the image as a “thumbnail.”

Here’s why I recommend smaller sizes.

Big images eat up your total maximum file upload size in WordPress. Users are allowed a maximum of 200 MB upload space ion Blog Peoria. That’s it. I may expand Blog Peoria in the future, but for NOW, the max size is set at 200 MB. The maximum size for any ONE image being uploaded is 1,500 KB.

And here’s another problem. Too-large photos will break many themes. If your theme can accommodate an image no wider than, say, 500 pixels, the theme’s sidebar may be forced below the image, perhaps all the way to the bottom of the blog.

Or, you will get a “broken image” message on your blog (FYI: the fewer images you have on your blog, the better as far, as load times go).

Or your blog will take too long to load.

Or it won’t load at all.

Trust me, tweaking your image in Photoshop BEFORE uploading it the best thing you can do for your blog.

The Blog Peoria Project is part of the ‘people-powered media’ revolution

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I found this article on AlterNet:

In the last week, there were two major examples of how people-powered media can educate and mobilize people even if the mass corporate media does not report on an issue.

 

We are in the midst of an era of media transition. The corporate media is facing tremendous financial, employee and audience challenges. At the root of their problem is credibility.  In 2004, Gallup reported that “39% currently say they have ‘not very much’ confidence in the media’s accuracy and fairness, while 16% say they have ‘none at all.’” Gallup reported this was the lowest credibility rating in three decades.  But, the decline continued and by 2012, Gallup reported that distrust of the media had risen by 5% to 60% having little or no trust in the media – a new record.  A 2013 Gallup poll found only 1 in 4 Americans trust television or newspaper news.

 

At the same time, technology has given rise to a new people-powered media. People can now turn their telephones into a video outlet and their social networks into a newspaper. Repeatedly we have seen someone publish a video from their phone and make national news.  Any individual can go onto social networking outlets and reach thousands, if not tens of thousands of people in this new democratized media. Others create blogs that gain mass followings. Cities have groups like the DC Media group, citizen activists from the occupy movement, or the Media Mobilizing Project in Philadelphia building media teams. And, through activist organizations, news that is not covered in the media is shared widely. One reason we created Popular Resistance was to provide coverage of the burgeoning movement for social and economic justice that is building in the United States and around the world but ignored by the mass media. People can even get a daily movement news report in their email every morning.

Go read the whole thing.

Folks, this is what the whole Blog Peoria Project is all about.

Consider for a moment how much of the product produced by the mainstream media is produced by the government. Crime stories. Fire stories, City Council stories. Even weather stories. All of them spoon fed to the media by “official spokesmen.”

I’ve said this before: Journalism is not rocket surgery. At its bare minimum, all a journalist is is someone who looks out the window and tells others what he sees. You don’t need a degree in journalism. You don’t need to adhere to the AP Stylebook.

Look out your window and TELL US WHAT YOU SEE.

See a neighborhood in the middle of official neglect? Tell us.

See a street that hasn’t been plowed of snow this winter? Tell us.

See a lawn that hasn’t been mowed all summer? Tell us?

Tell us WHAT YOU SEE. If you’re pissed off about it, the chances are that someone else is too.

The media isn’t going to tell us. Yeah, the media MIGHT do a story about the snow storm, but I rather doubt they are going to give anyone any grief about how they haven’t plowed YOUR street. And why should they report on the overgrown grass next door, when the entire city is falling apart, and everyone thinks it’s NORMAL.

Tell us. And take pictures. Or better yet, take VIDEO. Post them to your Blog Peoria Project blog, and email a permalink to your city council member.

Your city council member will always, ALWAYS listen to Chamber of Commerce types. But they will listen to YOU too, if you have a blog.

if you own a Blog Peoria Project blog, you are a media maven. It’s the exact same thing as owning one of those big presses the Journal Star uses. It’s exactly the same thing as owning a broadcast tower like WMBD or WEEK.

And when we all work together and share information and exchange links, our power is multiplied.

Down with BuddyPress, long live bbPress

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I tried to run the infamous BuddyPress plugin. It would have let member bloggers communicate internally with each other.

But it kept breaking the ability of people to sign up for new blogs.

So, I deleted BuddyPress and instead installed bbPress. Some background. bbPress is the bulletin board software that a hearty band of coders reworked into the blogging platform called “WordPress.”

And bbPress remained the red-headed stepchild for many years. But recently some official attention was paid to it, and it is a full-throated forum package. And it also exists as a WordPress plugin.

I’ve added the main plugin, and I’ve also added some add-on plugin that explain it’s usefulness. I’ve created two main forums — One for citizen journalism and other about the nuts & bolts of operating a Blog Peoria Project blog.

But a warning: You must be a member of the Blog Peoria Project to participate. You do not necessarily have to create a blog.

bbPress. Yet ANOTHER reason to blog on the Blog Peoria Project.

How to upload an avatar (or get a Gravatar)

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Yo know how Facebook lets users upload avatars that appear next to your name when you make a post? Well, you can upload that same avatar to THIS site. It will appear when you post comments on our main bbPress bulletin board. You go to your Dashboard, scroll down to “Users”  and then click on “Your profile.” Near the bottom of the page is an upload geature that lets you upload an image. Some cropping is possible, but it’s best to upload a square image, probably no bigger than 150×150.

Don’t want to use a headshot? That’s OK, go HERE or HERE and browse and then download one of the images. There are other sites that let you download avatar images. Try a Google search.

But frankly, I recommend getting a GRAVATAR, or a “Globally Recognized Avatar.” You go there once, upload the avatar, and it appears on every blog and forum that uses Gravatars. Simply put, it calls up the Gravatar that’s associated with your email.

You are protected DAILY with UpdraftPlus backup!

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You know that nonsense where my WiredTree account expired and they wouldn’t give me ONE DAY’S ACCESS to mover the database and files to me new server? And then the destroyed the files a couple of weeks later? To save themselves some server space?

It won;t happen again.

I’ve just spent the morning installing the UpDraft Plus backup and restore plugin. Once a day, this plugin will download a database AND files (that means any uploaded photos, PDF files or music files) to my OFF SITE Dropbox account.

So, if Hostgator gets lippy and drops my account, I can move my site in a matter of an hour or so.

Remember, that’s a DAILY download. And it’s already set up. And thanks to the generous donor who contributed the $25 for the  MultiSite plugin that let this happen.

This is the best thing ever.