Centre for Community Journalism

What is journalism?

Journalism is the gathering, processing, and dissemination of news and information related to the news to an audience. The word applies to both the method of inquiring for news and the literary style which is used to disseminate it.

The media that journalism uses vary diversely and include: content published via newspapers and magazines, television and radio, and their digital media versions – news websites and applications.

In modern society, the news media is the chief purveyor of information and opinion about public affairs. Journalism, however, is not always confined to the news media or to news itself, as journalistic communication may find its way into broader forms of expression, including literature and cinema. In some nations, the news media is controlled by government intervention, and is not a fully independent body.

In a democratic society, however, access to free information plays a central role in creating a system of checks and balance, and in distributing power equally amongst governments, businesses, individuals, and other social entities. Access to verifiable information gathered by independent media sources, which adhere to journalistic standards, can also be of service to ordinary citizens, by empowering them with the tools they need in order to participate in the political process.

The role and status of journalism, along with that of the mass media, has undergone profound changes over the last two decades with the advent of digital technology and publication of news on the Internet. This has created a shift in the consumption of print media channels, as people increasingly consume news through e-readers, smartphones, and other electronic devices, challenging news organizations to fully monetize their digital wing, as well as improvise on the context in which they publish news in print. Notably, in the American media landscape, newsrooms have reduced their staff and coverage as traditional media channels, such as television, grapple with declining audiences. For instance, between 2007 and 2012, CNN edited its story packages into nearly half of their original time length.

This compactness in coverage has been linked to broad audience attrition, as a large majority of respondents in recent studies show changing preferences in news consumption. The digital era has also ushered in a new kind of journalism in which ordinary citizens play a greater role in the process of newsmaking, with the rise of citizen journalism being possible through the Internet. Using video camera equipped smartphones, active citizens are now enabled to record footage of news events and upload them onto channels like YouTube, which is often discovered and used by mainstream news media outlets. Meanwhile, easy access to news from a variety of online sources, like blogs and other social media, has resulted in readers being able to pick from a wider choice of official and unofficial sources, instead of only from traditional media organizations.


What is Community Journalism?

Community journalism is locally-oriented, professional news coverage that typically focuses on city neighborhoods, individual suburbs or small towns, rather than metropolitan, state, national or world news.

If it covers wider topics, community journalism concentrates on the effect they have on local readers. Community newspapers also tend to cover subjects larger news media do not for example, students on the honor roll at the local high school, school sports, crimes such as vandalism, zoning issues, and other details of community life.

An increasing number of community newspapers are now owned by large media organizations, although many rural papers are still “mom and pop” operations.

Community journalism should not be confused with the work of citizen journalists, who are often unpaid amateurs, or with civic journalism, although many community newspapers practice that.

At the “Emerging Mind of Community Journalism” conference in Anniston, Ala., in 2006, participants created a list characterizing community journalism: community journalism is intimate, caring, and personal; it reflects the community and tells its stories; and it embraces a leadership role.

The journalism debate

Not everyone agrees on the principles or practices of community journalism. Traditionally, journalists advocate avoiding any real or perceived conflict of interests, which can be anything from refraining from joining community groups, to not pledging money to a candidate they support. Community journalism, however, encourages the coverage of news that hits close to home, even for the journalist covering the story.

Some philosophers encourage professional journalists to remain independent, whereas others insist on committing to local and generalized communities as a prerequisite for true citizenship. Some say community involvement is fine for editors and publishers, but not for the reporters who have the ability to “shape” the news. Critics say this involvement is a risk for anyone involved in producing the news.

Clifford Christians, co-author of Good News Social Ethics and the Press, urges journalists to realize that their publics may gravitate toward self-interest, and therefore the journalists should report stories that lessen the isolationism that comes from reading wider, world-based stories.

Loyalty to a community is the inevitable price of acceptance, and the fee is creating sharp conflicts with allegiance to the truth. Through community journalism, attitudes about necessary information change from the need for a broad range of information (pluralism) to a reliance on information necessary to maintain community values and fortify the status quo (reinforcement).

Some think group importance could transcend the value of distributing accurate information both internally to members of the group, and externally about the community or group.

Others think the switch toward community journalism is a natural reaction to our out-of-touch mega media. J. Herbert Altschull, writer of “A Crisis of Conscience: Is Community Journalism the Answer?” sees community journalism as a natural outgrowth from concerns of the media’s slippage in credibility and influence.


When a podcaster can get the president of the United States to sit down for a long, rambling interview in his garage, I think it’s time for the rest of us to acknowledge that podcasting is the future of journalism.

I’m Calling It: Podcasting Is the Future of Journalism
Shannon Rupp, The Tyee, 2015.07.20

My observations

If we are a community of common interest and common enterprise playing a part in a number of other larger communities of common interest and common enterprise and contributing to other communities of common interest and common enterprise, our range of interests is clear so we are exploring for and appreciative of contributions to increasing our knowledge of what is happening, what others are learning, and what stories are important or could be important for us to know about, to follow, an perhaps even contribute to with our ideas, abilities, and resources.

What we want is information we can trust from sources we can trust which comes from contributors who are part of and contributing to creating a better experience for our community and a better future for our world.

What do we know?

Stories and ideas spread naturally by word of mouth. Social media systems accelerate our word of mouth communications and give everyone the ability to contribute information, stories, ideas, and opinions to the digital world. A story that could have taken a hundred years to move around the world not so long ago, now takes a hundred minutes. A YouTube video shared on Facebook or Twitter could go viral overnight.

Technology has given us a communications tool kit that allows anyone to become a journalist at little cost and, in theory, with global reach. Nothing like this has been remotely possible before.

Dan Gillmor
Grassroots Journalism

The purpose of community journalism

Community journalism is journalism with a purpose. Community journalism is journalism for the community by the community The role of community journalism is to report and connect stories, information, ideas, and opportunities that contribute to increasing knowledge, understanding, and common and creative interests to the interests of communities of people and enterprise contributing to creating community. Our common interest is creating possibilities for the future of our communities.

The purpose of community journalism is to create connections that contribute to our understanding, our appreciation, and our ability to create community around our common interests and our common enterprise.

The role of community journalism is to draw our attention to what we know and what we don’t know. What interests do we have in common in our communities? What ideas and ways of seeing and doing things could contribute to or militate against our  community interests? Connections create opportunities for people in our communities.

Journalism with purpose

The art of community journalism is the art of creating connections and community with information, ideas, and opportunities that contribute to different community interests  and community enterprises. 

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer Agenda

The following is the Post-Intelligencer’s editorial agenda for the Pacific Northwest, Washington state, and the Greater Seattle area:

  • Reform and balance the state’s tax structure by reducing sales and gross business taxes and adopting personal and corporate income taxes.
  • Adopt new strategies to combat sexual offences and other crimes of violence.
  • Give health and safety of the state’s children high local and state priority
  • Expand efforts to halt drug abuse, through law enforcement, treatment of addiction, and education.
  • Support efforts at local, state, and federal levels to alleviate homelessness.
  • Develop a balanced system of transportation in the Puget Sound region to include high-occupancy vehicle highway lanes, mass transit and passenger ferries and coordinated planning for new airport facilities.
  • Clean up Hanford’s massive, 40-year accumulation of nuclear wastes, which have contaminated soil and water and pose health and environmental threats to future generations.
  • Strengthen regional government by reorganizing Metro and the King County Council to make them more efficient and responsive to citizens.
  • Adopt state-wide growth management policies that channel new residential, commercial, and industrial growth into developed areas and are consistent among local government jurisdictions.
  • Continue to improve the quality of the state’s public schools at all levels, with emphasis on meeting the special needs of schools in urban and rural districts.
  • Clean up Puget Sound and prevent its further pollution.
  • Strengthen the growing role of Seattle and the Puget Sound region as a hub of international trade, cultural and academic exchange, and tourism.

Editorial page of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, circa 1986 – PDF

What we want

Community journalism and community media gives our communities of interest and enterprise the ability to connect what they to learn to their interests, their context, and their enterprise. Contributions are connected to their source. What contributes to our interests and what could we do?


  • What do we know?
  • What could we do as a community?
  • What do we need to know to create possibilities as a community?
  • What do we need to know to make informed decisions?
  • What could we benefit from knowing as a community?
  • What we don’t know? What do we need to know? What would  we like to know?
  • What do we want our community journalists to do for us?
  • What are our community interests?
  • Who are our community ombudsmen?
  • Who’s looking out for our community interests?
  • Who’s contributing to our interests?
  • Who could contribute to or benefit from what we know?
  • What ideas and enterprises are contributing to our community interests?
  • Which creative leaders are contributing to our interests?
  • What do our creative leaders need?

Contributions from the community

Stories, ideas, information, opportunities, resources, connections from people gathered over years builds a library and tells the history of the community. The community grows as big as the common interest  and common enterprise attracts.

Contributions of community journalism

  • Connect to information we need to know and could benefit from knowing
  • Publish ideas contributed by our community leaders and contributors about what we could do
  • Publish opportunities we are creating for our community to contribute
  • Keep us informed on the development of stories of enterprises and events which are contributing to or militating against our interests
  • Improve our ability as a community to pursue our common interests
  • Create connections with the stories, information, ideas, and opportunities we contribute to our communication centre
  • Give everyone the ability to explore the history and the evolution of stories
  • Give everyone equal access to information about where we are now, what is happening, and who is contributing
  • Contribute to creating a culture of open community in our communications
  • Create communities around our common interests and common enterprises

Journalism and Democracy

What is democracy? What could contribute to creating democracy in our community? In a democracy everyone gets to participate in creating their community. Community journalism, open media systems, and community enterprise all contribute to creating democracy.

Journalism with independence

Community media needs to be a sustainable enterprise to create sustainable communities. A sustainable community or enterprise is self-sustaining and economically independent. Sustainable enterprises are creative in exploring and responding to changing circumstances and new ideas and opportunities.

The Centre for Community Journalism and community media need to be sustainable community enterprises free from the need for public and philanthropic funding, and free of political and corporate interest or control. Politics is the art or science of influencing people.

Create direct connections to our media contributors, – people and enterprises and communities contributing stories, information, ideas, and opportunities, – to explore, to experience, to learn, to contribute, and to create connections and creative enterprise.

What we need to know

We need to know the context for the choice to be able to know the decision for our circumstances and context.

What we know

The media is the single most powerful tool at our disposal; it has the power to educate, effect social change, and determine the political policies and elections that shape our lives. Our work in diversifying the media landscape is critical to the health of our culture and democracy.
Women’s Media Center

The level of concentration in our sources of information and the influence of one point of view on our community and on and with our politicians. “Reporters are not free agents but employees who have to abide by editorial decisions made by their superiors”.
CBC vs Sun News – Huffington Post

Journalism uncovers detailed facts on issues that matter.
Vancouver Observer
Owned and operated by women

How do we draw our conclusions about how things are and what contributes to our interests? What do you think of the CBC? Toronto Sun readers poll results as of March 10, 2013:
13% It’s a national treasure – 4642 votes
13% It’s pretty good – 4491 votes
5% It’s OK – 1704 votes
3% It’s not good – 1138 votes
65% – It’s a waste of taxpayer money – 22600 votes

No tears for CBC Revenue Problems – What do you think of the CBC?
Toronto Sun, – 2012.11.16

Creating our own media

Why is the mining industry buying up the media industry?
Australian Media Company for the Mining Industry – Film
Push for an Australian Fox News – Australian Broadcasting Corporation

The Anti-Media.org is an alternative news aggregate site. We bring together grass-roots alternative journalism, citizen journalists and awakened individuals. We bring the world of alternative journalism to one place for you to read and discover your favorite journalists and bloggers. We accept and encourage the community submitting links to us so we can share them with the rest of the community. If you are a journalist and would like to contribute to this site and other media distribution outlets, please email us or join our Facebook group

Nick Bernabe of The Anti-Media on Global No War with Syria Rallies – Film
Before It’s News: Rallies Planned in Over 70 Cities for Saturday, 8/31 – Story
The Anti-Media.org – Enterprise

What is happening?

From my point of view, although objective journalism is a subjective idea, journalism and a diversity of voices is essential to our ability to make informed decisions about our future. This is not a question of whether there is a place for journalism. The more important question for exploration is

“What is the future for journalism and what new models can we create to become better informed in our rapidly changing world and improve our ability to create a better future for our communities and a better future for our world?”

The Future of Canadian Journalism
Roger Chilton
from My Point of View


Canadian Association of Journalists

The Canadian Association of Journalists is the national voice of Canadian journalists. We are committed to protecting the public’s right to know. We speak on behalf of journalists and in support of the highest quality journalism. Our annual awards program recognizes the best in Canadian journalism, with a particular focus on journalism that is investigative in nature.

The Canadian Association of Journalists’ ethics advisory committee was formed to consider and provide advice on ethical issues faced by journalists through the course of the regular work. We publish MEDIA
a must-read for anyone with an interest in the practice of journalism in Canada edited by David McKie of CBC News’ Parliamentary bureau. The Association maintains and is associated with several e-mail or web-based list-servs where members and non-members can discuss issues related to journalism.

Canadian Association of Journalists

Canadian Journalism Foundation

Canadians need the best available information in order to make sound decisions about the issues that shape our society. Access to in-depth, authoritative information is vital to the democratic process.

As Canadians’ primary source of information about today’s complex and challenging issues, the media play a pivotal role in shaping public decision making. Media are challenged to fulfill their role of providing intelligent, incisive information. They need access to the knowledge and insights of experts. They need to gain greater understanding of the issues and forces that underlie policy and decision making in the private, non-profit and public sectors. They need opportunities to exchange ideas and perspectives with others both in and outside their field.

The Canadian Journalism Foundation creates these opportunities by working with media and non-media organizations to improve the quality of public information through excellence in journalism. Our forums offer high-level, in-depth dialogue and debate. The result: Powerful ideas and insight that contribute to knowledge and influence understanding.

Canadian Journalism Foundation

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists is a small, resourceful newsroom with our own reporting team, as well as a global network of reporters and media organizations who work together to investigate the most important stories in the world.

Our network of trusted members encompasses more than 220 of the best investigative reporters from 83 countries and territories. We also partner with more than 100 media organizations, from the world’s most renowned outlets, including the BBC, the New York Times, the Guardian and the Asahi Shimbun, to small regional nonprofit investigative centers.

Drawing on the expertise and reach of our network, we collaborate on groundbreaking investigations that expose the truth and hold the powerful accountable, while also adhering to the highest standards of fairness and accuracy.

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists

The State of the News Media

The State of the News Media is the annual report on the health and status of American journalism. It contains a series of reports on how people use mobile technology to get local news; a comparison of the U.S. newspaper industry with the rest of the world, and reports on community news websites.

Each story has a summary essay and a data section presenting a range of statistics graphically rendered with minimal text. The report is the work of the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism a nonpolitical, nonpartisan research institute funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts.

The State of the News Media Report

The Media Manager

The Media Manager: Ideas on New Directions

Centre for Community Journalism

Creative connections

Go Direct Media
Community Media Centre