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Saturday, November 10, 2007

Citizen Journalism and Transparency - the Uptake

The Uptake is an up and coming Citizen Journalism site that focuses on Video Citizen Journalism. The Uptake was promoting several events for Steve Sarvi, the 2nd District congressional candidate. while the Communications Director for Sarvi, Bridget Cusick, serves on the Uptake's volunteer Board of Directors as the person focusing on marketing the site. Bridget's bio on the site, when I started working on this story, didn't mention her affiliation with Sarvi's campaign.

I called Bridget up to talk with her about this. Bridget said she had written the bio before she'd taken the gig with Sarvi. She also emphasized that she was focusing on the marketting and not the editorial side of the site. I asked her whether there was a policy about board disclosure of campaign affiliations - and she was not aware of anything. She later emailed me to clarify:

Mike [McIntee] stated something that should have been the first thing out of my mouth vis-a-vis "policy" but for whatever reason was not: clearly, no one working on a campaign would cover that campaign. I think your question specifically related to policy w/ regard to who sits on the board -- nonetheless, I wanted to be clear on the contributor side as well.

Bridget then updated her bio to include her affiliation with Sarvi.

I followed up by talking with Mike McIntee, who is one of the citizen journalists listed on the site:

McIntee talked about the importance of transparency. He also said the trainings they are doing is to develop some trusted contributors who will cover things fairly. They are not aiming for total objectivity, because he doesn't believe that exists.

The Uptake is an all volunteer board.

I asked McIntee if he was holding the Uptake up to the same standards as he was holding Michael Brodkorb.

McIntee responded: "I hold ourselves to the same standard as all journalists should."

"It's a young organization, and we're going to make mistakes.... We are going to try to provide the best journalism we can."