Queensland has CitizenJ. Now Melbourne has The Citizen.

Launched in May, The Citizen is the University of Melbourne’s online user-generated publication where students and freelancers can contribute news and features.

The stories take advantage of the online platform and are rich with photos, audio and video.

Sound familiar?

CitizenJ newsroom coordinator Ursula Skjonnemand talked to The Citizen’s editor-in-chief, Margaret Simons, who is also the director of the Centre for Advancing Journalism, which produces the publication.

Dr Simons says the centre is interested in exploring the concept of participatory journalism.

“We want to make a positive contribution to journalism by publishing worthwhile material – with a particular focus on areas which perhaps don’t get covered by mainstream media,” Dr Simons said.

The Citizen is a modern take on the university newspaper tradition. One of their current feature stories is written by Charles Firth of The Chaser fame, telling the story of The Chaser’s humble beginnings as a satirical newspaper at the University of Sydney.

Dr Simons says The Citizen isn’t just a “sandpit” publication only read read by other students.

“It’s a teaching tool for our students, giving them real-life experiences with real imperatives in terms of publication,” says Dr Simons.

“It’s a flagship for the centre. We publish media commentary, we talk about our research and we all hope to use it as a platform for some experiments in innovation in journalistic methodology.”

Dr Simons says the centre hopes to experiment with social media to inform journalism.

You don’t have to be a student of the University of Melbourne to contribute. The Citizen accepts freelance submissions.

Freelancing can be a tough gig, so The Citizen pays writers for their hard-earned work in a way that pleases their minds as well as their wallets.

“We have a small contributors budget, which we use to bring professional journalists in to write for us, but to also mentor our students,” says Dr Simons.

“The contributor budget is used both to generate copy, [and also as] a learning experience for our students.”

Dr Simons says participatory journalism will be important into the future.

“How it works is one of the things we’re interested in exploring,” she says.

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported.

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