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Launched Today: The Knight Citizen News Network

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The Knight Citizen News Network, a free web portal to help both citizens and journalists create and responsibly operate community news sites, launched today with an array of learning and resource modules contributed by a network of participants. was created to help citizens use digital media in ways that enrich community, enhance public discourse and enliven democracy, said Jan Schaffer, director of J-Lab: The Institute for Interactive Journalism, which manages development of the site. It also seeks to open doors for traditional news organizations seeking to embrace user-generated content.

“Above all, the site seeks to impart an understanding of the qualities that make for responsible and credible community news and information,” said Schaffer.

Among the site’s initial offerings are:

  • A unique database of U.S. citizen media sites, searchable by keyword, town or state and displayed on a Google map.
  • A “Things We Like” feature, starting with more than 20 cool ideas from sites around the country.
  • An interactive overview of the “Principles of Citizen Journalism,” with more than 40 audio and video interviews and scores of resources.
  • The latest citizen media research.
  • Mini case studies on how to train citizen journalists.
  • A list of resources to jumpstart reporting.

Significant content for the site has been developed by the I, Reporter team of Amy Gahran and Adam Glenn, and by the Center for Citizen Media, its founder Dan Gillmor with citizen media expert J.D. Lasica, who have captured the advice and thinking of some of the nation’s leading digital media figures. Site design is by Hop Studios in Vancouver, Canada.

More modules are in the works and J-Lab extends an invitation to new participants to propose content that will teach technical skills as well as core journalism values of accuracy, fairness and context.

The site and development of the modules are supported by a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. “Legendary journalist John S. Knight believed that the role of a good newspaper was ‘to bestir the people into an awareness of their own condition, provide inspiration for their thoughts and rouse them to pursue their true interests,’” said Knight journalism program officer Gary Kebbel. “In the world of digital media, that lofty charge falls to each of us.”

J-Lab, a center of the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland, also administers the Knight-Batten Awards for Innovations in Journalism. It offers micro grants for citizen media start-ups through its New Voices program. And it offers tutorials on how to use software and hardware to embark on community publishing at

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation promotes excellence in journalism worldwide and invests in the vitality of 26 U.S. communities where the Knight brothers owned newspapers. The Knight Foundation especially supports ideas and projects that create transformational change.

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