challenges for citizen journalism

Persons live in specific places. Citizen journalism potentially can support local events and build community. I’ve tried to make some contribution here, here, here, and here.

Below I document one of my failures.

The rules for citizen journalism aren’t clear. Many organizations need to think about such rules. The challenge, it seems to me, is to recognize fears, to address them rationally, and to demonstrate the additional value that new media possibilities offer. That’s a job for everyone.

** original post to purple motes **

Title: NBB Basketball Highlights
Posted: Tuesday, January 09th 2007, about 10:45 pm

We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming on the mind-boggling media transformations to bring you NBB Basketball Highlights. With networked journalism, you’re in the game.

** email 1 **

From: Douglas Galbi
Sent: Tuesday, January 09, 2007 10:51 PM
To: [third grade girls basketball coordinator]
Cc: [league commissioner]
Subject: basketball video

Dear [third grade girls basketball coordinator],

I brought my video camera to last Saturday’s [team 1] v [team 2] game (my first ref assignment) and ask the mother of my co-ref to shoot some video. I then put together a brief news report that I hope others might enjoy and perhaps find funny. The news video is available on my blog at

I’m aware of the importance of on-line safety. The video does not include any names of participants, does not identify the place of the event, nor the league. Because the video resolution is low, only persons familiar with the players and their numbers are likely to be able to recognize players from the video. In addition, while the video is served through YouTube to my website, the video is not available through the YouTube website (I’ve set it up as a “private” video). It can be viewed only on my blog. I think that the video does not present any risk to the children. But if you have any concern about the video, please let me know.

A whole new world of media is upon us. I think it can be used for good.

Douglas Galbi
1’st year ref

** email 2 **

Subject: RE: basketball video
From: [league commissioner]
Date: 1/10/2007 6:16 PM
To: Douglas Galbi


My name is [league commisioner] and I am the commissioner of [league]. I really appreciate you sending your note but I have to say, I am uncomfortable with you videotaping our games. I know they are only available through your blog but it still makes me extremely uncomfortable. If you would please remove it, I would appreciate it. Anyone can get on your blog and we would need permission from all of the parents of all the kids on the video for me to be OK with you posting it.

Thank you and I appreciate your cooperation.

[league commissioner]

** email 3 **

Subject: Re: basketball video
From: Douglas Galbi
Date: 1/10/2007 7:10 PM
To: [league commissioner]

[league commissioner],

Thanks for your reply. I’ve deleted the video (and the blog post).

Perhaps for next season, you and the Board of Directors might consider how [league] could take advantage of possibilities for non-traditional reporting, with due concern for safety and consent. With respect to consent, it seems to me that timely news reporting cannot require the consent of the persons who are the subject of the story. That would make such reporting impossible.  Typically community sports events include in the liability weaver a proviso for consent to use of images of persons participating in the event. Reporters of course are not party to such a waiver. My understanding is that such waivers cover publicity photos/videos that the organizers of the event use to promote future such events.

I’m impressed with the excellent organization of [league], and I look forward to working further as a referee.


2 thoughts on “challenges for citizen journalism”

  1. While I can understand their concerns, it’s very unfortunate that this headed in that direction. I would have thought that they would have notified the parents that the video was up – ‘go check and see it’ – and if then someone had complained, they then would have ask you to remove it.

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