The public is that group of consumers or citizens who care about the forces that shape their lives and want someone to monitor and report on those forces so that they can act on that knowledge. – Emily Bell’s rigorous definition of ‘the public.’
The future is now. Many of the changes talked about in the last decade as part of the future landscape of journalism have already taken place; much of journalism’s imagined future is now its lived-in present. (Bell 2007) We are adapting to a world where the audience are no longer just passive readers and viewers, but they are users and publishers. Over the last few years journalism has seen the introduction of many new techniques. But, as Bell (2007) puts it: Merely bolting on a few new techniques will not be enough to adapt to the changing ecosystem; taking advantage of access to individuals, crowds and machines will mean changing organizational structure as well.
A small start up that has tackled the traditional organisational structure completely, is TRAC FM. This free, cloud based software platform uses radio and SMS in Uganda to track citizen reports and collect citizen feedback. In this case the public is given an active role in the production of news. Basically, they are the ones monitoring and reporting on themselves. It’s a strong technique for collecting data and engaging citizens, it provides an opportunity for local NGO’s to perform fact driven data journalism. A weakness would be, that this also provides a gateway for anyone to spread ‘useless’ or ‘fake’ information. And thus, fake news, stays one of journalism’s biggest threats.
Bell, Emily 2007: “The Future: Journalism and Media as Post-Industries” – Tow center for digital journalism.