Posted by: delphine criscenzo | November 25, 2012

“Community-based” Journalism

There are many ethical responsibilities that come with being a journalist. The Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics emphasizes the need to “minimize harm [and] treat sources, subjects and colleagues as human beings deserving of respect.”[1] But what are “subjects” and “sources”? Don’t these terms suggest objectification and deprivation of power? What if journalists dealt with “participants” and “collaborators” instead of “subjects” and “sources”? The fields of anthropology and archeology, amongst others, have been undergoing a paradigm shift for the past fifteen years with scholars pushing for a different methodology emphasizing the participation of community members in the research process. The name of this approach is “community-based participatory research” and its main goal is to decolonize the process of collecting and interpreting data in academia. This approach encourages the active participation of those formerly known as “subjects” in designing and researching projects, and puts community members at the forefront.[2]

An argument can be made for the development of “community-based journalism” following the same principles of the community-based participatory research approach developed for anthropology. This method will advocate in favor of the participation of the community in choosing topics and stories to cover, as well as in the creation of the journalistic content. The journalist will bring a specific set of skills to the collaboration such as knowledge of recording technologies and journalistic storytelling abilities, while community members will offer their expertise on the issues that affect their lives.

How can this method work? I look forward to trying it out!

[1] (Society of Professional Journalists Ethics’ Code)

[2] (Atalay, 2012)

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