By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

A citizen journalist speaks

Lisa Williams, who’s the force behind the excellent Watertown citizen-journalism blog H2Otown, has posted an essay on Jay Rosen’s blog. Williams writes:

Like most functional small cities and large towns, Watertown is a comic opera with real estate taxes. But a newspaper isn’t allowed to say so. In a small town, The Newspaper is an authority figure, and there’s a word for someone in a position of power who makes wisecracks about others: bully. Being “just a blogger” — and emphasizing my total lack of credentials or authority other than being a Watertown resident with a blog — meant that I could convey the fun and joy of where I lived without being mean.

Aside from a bad attitude, one of my other journalistic sins is my lack of objectivity. I live in Watertown. I love it, and I’m an unapologetic booster. I’m not in bed with the subject, but as it happens, my bed is in the subject. I’m not shy about my agenda, which is to make Watertown a better place to live (and I’m also not shy about what I think “better” means).

H2Otown is just one example of what is becoming a citizen-journalist movement. I’ll have a lot more to say about this in the not-too-distant future, but, meanwhile, check out Adam Gaffin’s Univeral Hub for dozens of local links.

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The late, great John Rice


Jay who?


  1. Borderline

    I agree with Lisa. Lots of town-specific blogs are boosters, an unapologetically so. But boosterism doesn’t mean we don’t sometimes cast a critical eye. I blog about Newton and Waltham, and love to talk about good things to do and positive changes, but I have also on numerous occasions fired away at practices (loud motorcycles, some dog walkers), politicians (local and state), and the press (The Newton Tab, Daily News Tribune, and sometimes the Globe and Herald) for what I see to be negative developments. One other comment about “citizen journalism”: This is a partial misnomer. Very few bloggers report news. We provide comment, analysis, observations, but our roles are quite different than the reporters and editors who work for a newspaper, and we certainly won’t be replacing those functions.

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