An experiment in democratized journalism

During the last week of this year’s election MSNBC tried something different. We started to take reports from Citizen Journalists and MSNBC posted real reports from citizens across the country on our blogs, and talked about many of your reports on the air.  It was an experiment that worked.  4,000— yes four thousand— Citizen Journalists filed stories and helped MSNBC cover the election from every angle, including yours.  Those “CJ” reports collected over 500,000 hits on our site. 

This week we are going to make Citizen Journalist a regular part of MSNBC’s coverage of events large and small. We will put most of the stories you file up on our Citizen Journalist Blog, and take the best reports and talk about them on the air.  

I said many times that MSNBC has a great team of reporters trying to keep you informed— but they can’t be where you are— and they can’t see the things you see. 

Consider one or more of these as your "official assignment":

  • Assignment 1: The war in IraqWhen reporting, you might want to ask, “How does the fighting in Fallujah affect, if at all, my hometown?  Are former neighbors of yours now fighting in Iraq? How has their deployment affected their families/ my family?  What have you seen? How have you and others been responding to the Iraq war?  Does Bush’s re-election change peoples’ attitude toward the situation in Iraq?
  • Assignment 2: Travel safety and securityWhile on your travels for the upcoming holidays, what have you observed about our nations roads and ports? Did you feel safe when you walked through your airport?
    Many states are still on high terror alert levels, and security is always a concern.
  • Assignment 3: Your Thanksgiving visit homeWe’ve been reading a lot of e-mails from viewers about how many impromptu political discussions have bubbled up in dinner conversations amongst friends and family. This holiday may be no different. Are you living in a blue state traveling home to a red one? Was there a difference in culture or atmosphere between the place you live now, and the place you once called home? Are your previously apathetic parents/siblings/cousins now actively involved in the political process?

So over the Thanksgiving Holiday we hope you will join our growing group of Citizen Journalists and file your story. It can be a real piece of news, a story you think we’ve missed at MSNBC, or you can simply tell us what you are thankful for in this season of Thanksgiving.

Some people send in stories, others who are handy with a camera, have sent in pictures that help to tell the story visually— but let your creativity go— if you have a knack for animation have at it and send it in!

We are all experts at something, so if you see a story you know something about or can add something in terms of helping people better understand the story or better understand why something is happening. Send us your insight.

The Internet is empowering individuals to share information, news, and insight in a way that no other medium has empowered the individual in the past.  At MSNBC we want to continue an experiment in Citizen Journalism that we started a few weeks ago and embrace the change the Internet can bring to the way we report things— and that experiment starts with you.  

So sign-up today, start breaking the news, telling your story, or take the picture that helps make the story clear to the MSNBC community.

And I’ll do my best to get the best stories on the air to MSNBC’s viewers.   

Can bottom-up Citizen Journalism add something meaningful to the way a story is reported?   I think so, and MSNBC is willing to experiment with it and see if we can make it happen right here.  

That’s something I am thankful for as we near the Thanksgiving Holiday.

Comments? E-mail

Joe Trippi, Howard Dean's former campaign manager, is an MSNBC contributor and a political analyst for "Hardball with Chris Matthews."