OffTheBus has gotten a lot of attention for the work of its citizen journalist contributors. This past week we expanded the definition of the term, at least for us here at OffTheBus, by including among our staff eight citizen-journalism editors! Nearly all of the OpEd posts on the page this week-- and there have been many-- have been edited and proofed by this team, taking turns working day and night shifts from their spots around the country.
The team is diverse and includes filmmakers, journalists, teachers, university students, an IT geek, one film critic, a former film-industry flack and at least one Army reporter. They have written short posts introducing themselves that we've linked to below. All of them to various degrees have been contributors to the OTB project and are interested in seeing the evolution of a new kind of more responsive journalism. As Editor Beth Morrissey put it in her introduction: "I have followed the candidates through battleground states ... and what surprised me most was how traditional media chose to cover the exact same stories [about the candidates and the campaigns] in the exact same ways... Some of the most exciting stories this election season have been broken by citizen journalists."
The OTB project works at its best when we draw most on the various talents of our community members. Just as few could have guessed the way our contributors are breaking stories and influencing the narrative of the campaign, there's no telling how the experience and practice of our editors will translate into content and tug at dominant news frames and subject matters and approaches to journalism. The team is already coming up with great ideas about new forms of opinion writing and commentary.
Of course, one of the many benefits the site will reap from the new team is the ability to post more material and to do it faster. So, we will also be looking to expand our pool of writers. Now is a good time to contribute.
Send your OpEd and a bio and headshot to campaigntrail AT huffingtonpost.com (If you've already published, you don't need the bio/headshot.)
Need to brainstorm? Send an email to campaigntrail AT huffingtonpost.com with "OpEd idea" in the subject line.
So who are these new editor community members?
Jennifer Bogut is a computer geek by profession and a writer-musician-armchair talking head for "fun." She lives in New Jersey.
R.T. Eby has worked at a host of local newspapers but has also worked in the carnival business and recently retired from a career in commercial kitchens. He lives in northern Tennessee near the Kentucky border where he has a house on two acres.
James Freedman is a contributing editor to The Johns Hopkins News-Letter and is applying to law schools.
Beth Morrissey is an associate producer for Purple States TV and is producing a documentary called "What's Organic About "Organic?" She's a new resident of New Haven, an aspiring rock climber, and an ultimate frisbee player.
Kevin Sinclair, a native New Yorker, lives in Nova Scotia where he edits the rural lifestyle journal Maritime Almanac. A citizen of both the United States and Canada, he has an avid (some would say, obsessive) interest in American politics.
Jane Wylen worked as a New York State policy analyst in criminal justice before moving to the beach in Florida, where she became a copy editor and librarian and got serious about seaside activities such as kayaking and biking.
Ruth Ferguson lives in Dallas and is the editor of the North Dallas Gazette, which focuses on issues and events of interest to the African American community in the Metroplex. She's a former film critic and an information junkie.