Today I had the great pleasure of going on a trip back in time, I went to an event which brought back some really nice memories for me. The event was a gathering of former members of a group which I really think should be resurrected - “Citizens' Eye” was a Community Media group in Leicester.
It also happened to be the first place (apart from “Scribbles”) where I have felt accepted, included, and comfortable enough to take part without being judged and made to feel like an outsider.
I can still remember the warm fuzzy feeling I got when another member of the group (who was at today's gathering) told me they had read my blog and enjoyed it. The best thing was – I don't even remember saying anything to them about my blog in the first place (mainly because I don't remember speaking to the person at all before they mentioned having read my blog).
Being an oddball can be fun – but it can be very challenging at times. Especially when you walk into a group of humans who all seem to be “highbrow” and/or Brainiacs, You may find yourself having to try to “tone yourself down” a bit so you can fit in.
I had no such problems at “Citizens' Eye”. I could be myself and teach whilst learning if I wanted to. In fact, that is part of the reason you are reading some blog posts which may seem a bit unusual sometimes. I have learned not to be so frightened of what people think (admittedly – if you follow me on Facebook you will have noticed that the “fit for public consumption” filter well and truly got lost since the start of my current escapade). I have a story to tell and I am going to tell it in my own way using my own words.
Come to think of it – I think that might be the whole idea behind “Citizen's Journalism”. I am not a qualified Journalist, nor a paid one, but I do try to educate people about some of the challenges I face as well as telling you a bit about other things which interest me.
Yes, I am happiest talking to you from behind a keyboard (I can think better then – and actually type things which, hopefully, make sense).
A few weeks ago I took the guy I am working on my photography project with to my Dad's house so he could take some photographs of the walk from the corner of my Dad's road in the dark (and when I say “in the dark” I mean exactly that). Whilst we were there I took some photographs of what I could see from Dad's house looking back to the main road – I was going to put them on this blog post but they didn't come out as I thought they would (they actually looked better on the small screen of my camera).
Sometimes people's stories lose something when they are “tidied up” by professional journalists. I am absolutely convinced that the best people to write about events which happen are the exact people who they are affected by. It is not about having the right “voice” - it is about having the experience to back up what you are saying.
It is all very well reporting on something in an “if X happens then Y will be the result and we will have to do Z” kind of a way – but what happens if the scenario doesn't play out as expected??? Or even – what happens if you don't realise that “Y” could unexpectedly turn into “Q” for apparently no known reason??? Do you then involve the people who have experience of the situation to help you tell your story better??? I don't mean the people who have been parachuted into the situation to try to sort it out – I mean the people who were there when the situation started and who might be the most useful when it comes to giving you possible outcomes???
Yes – there is a place for “Professional” Journalists but there are some stories which can only be told by the people who are going through the situation (or have been through it) themselves – because the story needs a personal touch which “Professional” Journalists cannot give because they are too worried about “appearances” and neutrality or bias/angle.
Not everybody can tell their own story – nor does everybody want to. However, surely we should be giving those who want to tell their own story the opportunity to do exactly that without sanitising it beyond recognition?
We need to let go of the idea that there is a “good” way and a “bad” way to tell a story – with the “good” way involving people who are paid to report dispassionately on events.
That is what I love about being able to call myself a “Citizen Journalist” - I can tell my story and it is up to you whether or not you choose to listen.
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