Nithin Coca

Freelance Writer and Consultant



How to Make News: The Power of Citizen Journalism

Imagine Tahrir Square without photos and videos from cameras and cell phones. Imagine Occupy Wall Street without Twitter and Livestream. Social media has allowed people to communicate and spread messages in innovative ways, and the greatest innovations are not coming from traditional top-down hierarchies, but from the bottom up. 

Grassroots media is the power of individuals in society to raise awareness about the stories affecting there lives. Citizen journalists use the power of existing media tools to create content, engage communities, and spur action of issues all around the world. As media tools become more and more accessible, the power of grassroots media will only grow. 

Will you play a role?

This course is for

  • Those who want to learn more about how grassroots media has changed how and where we receive news.
  • NGO and Businesses who want to train their activist or staff in citizen journalism.
  • Individuals with a video camera or a twitter account who want to know how they can engage audiences or neighbors.

In this course we will go over:

  • HOW: The history of grassroots media, looking at case studies from the before and after spread of the internet.
  • WHEN does grassroots media make sense, and then does it now.
  • WHY certain citizen journalists enhance information and knowledge, while others don't.
  • WHAT: Concrete steps towards building your own grassroots media presence online.

At the end of the course, each participant will have a detailed grassroots media strategic plan that will allow them to implement the skills learned from the course in their own fields of work. 


Pre-Class Reading

Media Basics Handout

The Promise and Peril of New Communications Technology (Human Rights Perspective)

Police Fight Cell-Phone Recordings

Session 1 - History and Case Studies

Reading - How Social Media Coverage of Occupy Wall Street Beat the Mainstream Media

- Project 1 - Analyze a grassroots media campaign (Choose your own or pick one from discussion board)

Session 2 - Using Grassroots Media

Video - Battleground Twitter.

Reading - Media War Escalates in Gaza

The New Digital Divide (Tageting the right Audience)

Session 3 - Building your Grassroots Media Presence

Reading - Obama Year 1 Report - Failing to tap Volunteer Base (Board Question - what could he have done differently? What can he do now in second term?)

- Project 2 - Grassroots Media Strategic Plan (Template)

Session 4 - Project Feedbacks and Next Steps

Further Reading

ecampaigning 2012 - Case Studies

About Nithin Coca - Nithin was formerly the Grassroots Media Coordinator for the Sierra Club, where he worked on transforming the organization’s traditional grassroots base into a media-savvy, socially networked one. He also helped spearhead Facebook outreach to high school caucus goers for the Obama campaign in Iowa. Besides Obama and Sierra Club, Nithin had also conducted media trainings for the New Organizing Institute,, Kehati (Indonesian Biodiversity Foundation), Citizens against Longwall Mining, and Teens go Green Jakarta.


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