I checked out a new site, Demotix the Citizen Wire, last week as a friend came to see me hot from the BritDoc Fesitval full of enthusiasm about it, knowing about my interest in citizen’s journalism, documentaries, blogging and the future of digital media.
So I was very suprised indeed to find when I did look that there was nothing at all on the site to tell me who ran it, who the owners were and who was behind the scenes. I put some feelers out to people who I would expect to know all there is to know about such developments, one inside the BBC who Twittered, (or should that be tweeted?) and posted to find the answer, and one in the US – to find that at that time neither had heard of it, and one had the same questions as I. How was I to know what to think about a site , which in this day and age of open credentials and transparency, did not publish the story of the people behind it and provide a way for people to get in touch with them. They have impressive partners – but this seemingly simple omission might cause a person or organisation to wonder about their credentials and know how and whether to trust them. So I called my friend and suggested gently that she call her friends. Anyway , perhaps as a result of this we have the answer: published on the Telegraph Blog last Friday.
Interestingly now the website publishes some links to discussion about this site and service in the magazine and daily press. So now I am hunting around in online newspapers and magazines to find out who is who and what is what. I find that the owner took the idea to the Telegraph Media Group who might be supporting it in some way. Certainly their Assistant editor, Justin Williams, posting about it on his personal blog is very enthusiastic (Why Demotix could be the biggest thing in World News).
But even stranger I couldn’t find anything on Justin’s blog CounterValue to tell me his name except the picture link to Facebook which told me his name when I hovered over it. Voila. Surely things should not be so hard this day and age?
Is any of this important? I think it is. I could understand this silence if there were a good reason to do with protecting the identity and whereabouts of contributors – but if that’s the reason, please do tell us. I am also left wondering whether it wouldn’t help them a great deal in the online space , not to mention the blogosphere if they did publish this info. It looks like a really interesting project but at the moment they are not helping themselves in this respect. I don’t think I have lost all sense of proportion here, have I?