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Katie Couric, Tavis Smiley, Bob Woodward, Nicholas Kristof, and I Hit YouTube with Pointers for Citizen Journalists

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How would you like to get some pointers from Katie Couric and Tavis Smiley on how to conduct a good interview, from Bob Woodward on doing in-depth investigative journalism in the digital age, from Mike Isikoff on digging deeper to break news, and from Nicholas Kristof on how to cover a global humanitarian crisis and not get shot?

This expert input is now just a click away, thanks to a cool new project being launched today by YouTube. The YouTube Reporters' Center aims to be a one-stop-shop for people looking to learn how to report on what's going on around them, offering over two dozen videos -- ranging from how to capture breaking news on your cell phone to the ins and outs of journalistic ethics.

"We want to deepen the conversation about the importance of citizen reporting in today's media landscape," Steve Grove, the head of news and politics at YouTube, told me. "We want to help media organizations begin to leverage the tremendous power of citizen journalists to contribute to their coverage, and to give citizen reporters new opportunities to improve their work and get it seen by more people. The YouTube Reporters' Center is a great place to get started."

Citizen journalism is rapidly emerging as an invaluable part of delivering the news. With the expansion of the web and the ever-decreasing size and cost of camera phones and video cameras, the ability to commit acts of journalism is spreading to everyone.

Nothing has demonstrated the power of citizen journalism better than the recent uprising in Iran. People tweeting from demonstrations and uploading video of brutal violence taken with their camera phones have been able to tell a story, in real-time, and circumvent the efforts of the regime to control the media and the flow of information.

At HuffPost, we see citizen journalism as an integral part of what we do -- and, via Eyes and Ears, our citizen journalism community, we're harnessing the wisdom of the crowd to tackle stories too big for one reporter, attend events traditional journalists have been kept from (or have overlooked), and to find and highlight the small but evocative story happening right next door.

That's why I was delighted to accept YouTube's invitation to do a video offering my "big picture" take on citizen journalism. Here it is (thanks to HuffPost Editor Roy Sekoff, Eyes and Ears Editor Matthew Palevsky, and Robert Greenwald and the team at Brave News Films Studio for all their help in putting it together).

As I say in the video: anyone can become a citizen journalist. All you need is passion, a little training, and a desire to tell a good story. And we'd love you to become part of HuffPost's Eyes and Ears community.

Over the last few months, hundreds of Eyes and Ears contributors have combed through President Obama's stimulus package, flagging unreported line-items, which our HuffPost reporters wrote stories about. In April, 2,500 Eyes and Ears reporters signed up to tackle the Tax Day Tea Parties. Thanks to them we were able to convey the full spectrum of protest activity that took place at over 1,000 locations. And we currently have hundreds of Eyes and Ears contributors ready to track key members of the House as they move forward on -- or stand in the way of -- passing health care reform.

Eyes and Ears also encourages participation from individuals who have a unique perspective on breaking news. For example, as part of our Spotlight on Pakistan, we feature on-the-ground reports from the conflict in the Northwest Frontier Provinces and the struggle of millions of internally displaced people. But these reports don't only come from abroad. Dawn Teo, one of our star citizen journalists, regularly breaks stories from Arizona, including her reporting on Arizona State University's refusal to give President Obama an honorary degree when he delivered the commencement address at the school in May.

Plus, we are always looking for tips or someone capturing breaking news, like the great video we received from a reader when Air Force One made its ill-advised low fly-over of Manhattan.

Click here to sign up to become part of our Eyes and Ears team.

And be sure to check out all the videos at the YouTube Reporters' Center.

It's time to get out there and report.

 
 
 

Follow Arianna Huffington on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ariannahuff