‘Citizen journalism’ at World Youth Day

“Citizen journalism” is a new buzzword in the newspaper industry — and one many professional journalists are not too fond of — as the mainstream media struggle to find new methods to engage readers in the Internet age.

But it occured to me this morning that we have an interesting form of citizen journalism going on at World Youth Day. Within one hour earlier today over on the CNS World Youth Day blog, three of our bloggers had interesting up-close-and-personal reports on the arrival of Pope Benedict in Sydney Harbor — and all three had photos to share of the pope too.

First, Anna Weaver from the Hawaii Catholic Herald told her story about how she thought that her group would be too far away from the pope to get a good look at him, but then discovered that he would pass right by their spot. “This is far from an impartial journalist’s take on the papal arrival, but I am both a pilgrim and a reporter on this trip, and the pilgrim’s fever has a hold of me right now,” she wrote.

Only a minute or so later, Kris Dmytrenko of Salt + Light Television in Canada posted his own account of being on the papal boat in the harbor and speaking personally with the pope about, among other things, the International Eucharistic Congress last month in Quebec. He later stood next to Pope Benedict during the ride. “I’ll never forget his warmth and attention as he waved to pilgrims along the shores, his papal ring glimmered mere inches from my nose,” Kris wrote.

And then within the hour, Chris Valka, CSB, the Basilian seminarian who has been in Sydney for four months as a volunteer for the WYD organizing team, posted his own blog item (it’s a “must read”) on unexpectedly becoming master of ceremonies for the papal boat’s voyage through Sydney Harbor. “Did this just really happen???” is the way he fittingly headlined his post. “Even the Holy Father exclaimed “wow” as the boat rounded the coves filled to with thousands of people along the shoreline,” Chris recounted.

When we set out to find bloggers for our special WYD site, we specified that they had to be good writers, and all the ones we recruited have been top notch. Not bad for our first stab at citizen journalism.

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