We’ve talked enough about breaking news, and what happens when anyone with a smart phone is in the right place at the right time, so today we’re switching gears a little bit. I must admit, the idea for this blog spawned from a discussion we had in my class a few days ago. After seeing the iHollaback app, we started talking about another form of citizen journalism- the CouncilStat program that is currently running in New York City. It could be hard to understand how this is citizen journalism because it’s not breaking news- but it is reporting an issue. That’s what journalism is. Talking about things going on within communities— good or bad.
As you can see based on their website, their main goals are two-fold: to better respond to community needs, and to identify trends in order to best address the problems. At first glance, some people may not think this is citizen journalism, but quite the opposite is actually true. No, many of these things aren’t ever going to make it far beyond the website (potholes that still aren’t fixed more than likely aren’t going to make the national news).
What will though? What if higher crime rates are being reported in one specific area?
In cities as densely populated as New York City, this could always be a possibility. This is incredibly valuable information to city leaders. Specifically related to the CouncilStat website, city leaders are informed on what is happening in the several boroughs. CouncilStat’s website shows statistics for several boroughs dating back to June 2008.
Some of these e-government tools are new, but research, from places like The Business of Federal Technology are showing they’re quite effective. Thanks to newer communication channels, citizen satisfaction is rising within the government. While these statistics only represent the federal government, they certainly show hope that local government will jump on board with this new form of interactivity! Something like this would be very useful in Morgantown!
Having a dedicated website where citizens can go report problems, talk to each other about neighborhood issues and events, and get some type of interaction back from the local city leaders, I think, would be a great way to increase the two-way communication and get people involved in solving issues within their community—not just talking about them.