Mark Glaser gives us “Your Guide to Citizen Journalism.” In it he gives a brief history of the concept with examples. Some excerpts:
“One of the main concepts behind citizen journalism is that mainstream media reporters and producers are not the exclusive center of knowledge on a subject — the audience knows more collectively than the reporter alone… Because of the wide dispersion of so many excellent tools for capturing live events — from tiny digital cameras to videophones — the average citizen can now make news and distribute it globally, an act that was once the province of established journalists and media companies.”
The article ends with this quote from Kenneth Neil Cukier, a technology correspondent for The Economist:
“Ultimately, I believe it is a positive thing for journalism, because it enables something journalism has lacked: competition from the very public we serve.”
Overall, a good primer on the topic. He also makes note of the many other names used to describe this concept: grassroots journalism, networked journalism, open source journalism, citizen media, participatory journalism, hyperlocal journalism, bottom-up journalism, stand-alone journalism, and finally distributed journalism.