No need of J-word to do Citizen Journalism

Posted on August 25, 2011 by


I haven’t had any formal background in journalism. It has come to the day when I sit down, and recall how journalism unexpectedly involved into my professional and personal life. I published a newspaper myself during time of high school, which was full of my narrative and descriptive writing stuff about what happened inside and outside our classroom. I even tried to include at least one poem and one short story per paper, and sold them with less than 1 cent each that was enough for photocopy fee. First year of university, I impressed some guys taking in charge of high-rate programmes at national television station when I came to edit some parts of my first film, which was talking about our education project. I was invited to contribute to their programmes, playing the role of multi-tasker in a couple of following years. So-and-so things kept happening to me, until the day when I crossed the border and felt in love with the activities focusing on journalism and issues. That’s how all these thoughts really come up.

I’ve been working primarily in 2 years with an international non-governmental organization, with the main task of coordinating youth work and communications, on climate change and sustainability in Vietnam. As much as working at various levels from policy makers to the most vulnerable groups, I understand how crucial (and challenging!) to motivate their participation into what happening, either planning process or implementation. What I’ve found out is the ladder of participation, based on accessibility and capacities of different stakeholders.  When starting a debate programme for youth nationwide 1 year ago, I faced a number of difficulties in promoting the concept because our youth lack of habit (that also means, competencies) to process, analyze and critically question daily information, that mostly come from school, friends and Internet. Even there was a boom in blogging during the years after 2000. Even most online and printed newspapers allow readers to put their comments and sharing stories. Even Internet users in Vietnam, especially young adults in urban areas have equipped themselves richly with fancy tools to access information anytime and anywhere they want. I feel like something so-called Citizen Journalism is still far to be taken into real account that benefits society.

If not them, who will change?

Photo credit: a participant at Vietnam and Sustainable Development Forum, 2009.

I’m going to post more about different angles related to this topic, from Vietnam view. Let’s consider this like the kick-off as it is the time I strongly sense how so-called Citizen Journalism close to what I want to bring changes in my country than ever before.

My understanding and application is in-line with how they explain the term in the webpage of Hartsville Today:

“Citizen Journalism” is the idea that everyone of us has great stories, observations and information and that we become a richer community when everyone has the chance to be heard.

There should be no time for considering how sensitive and restricted it can be in Vietnam context. My proposal is skipping the J-word and make it simple for everybody, especially youth – my targeting group – to access and own its tools to express their thoughts and stories. If we can find the smart way to implement, the road will be on the map.