Citizen Journalism

“In short, to overstate the point only slightly, because people don’t really know why they do what they do, they give explanations of their own behavior that are about as reliable as anyone else’s, and in many circumstances actually less so.”

Kwame Anthony Appiah


The idea of citizen journalism is being explored from a perspective of Global Citizenship.  Language and the freedom to talk about ideas and media in the public domain are central to the rights of individuals.  An enlightened society should have spaces in which everyone is considered a stakeholder in knowledge and the where everyone is welcome to contribute to dialogues. With this in mind, the Glass House as an area of the Ragged website is being developed to promote citizen journalism amongst all communities.

Citizen Kane 1

The Idea:

To get individuals elucidating and making clear their position on media articles and issues restoring some of the agency people have to participate in freedom of speech. The Glass House is an experiment to develop an online newspaper of a type – one which is journalistic but much more knowledge rich than the commercial media streams which may have narrowed in their focus and style.
In the ethos of the Ragged project, it is not a platform for lobbying, evangelizing or marketing, is not-for-profit and adheres to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  It is an experiment about responsible reportage which enriches and helps enlighten culture broadening the general focus from sensation to analysis of fact.


How to Write an Article:

Take a 400 word excerpt from a published article, quote it verbatim, and write an article expanding the subject. Using the journalistic codes which have been devised, include clear references and links to knowledge resources and create your own article around that… anyone can do it, it is citizen journalism. Building into collections of social and cultural comment, The Glasshouse, if not to educate is to edify rather than entertain.
The Fourth Estate is a good multi-faceted term to inform the space of the Glasshouse.  It is a virtual publication of anyone who has something to share, and has a deep and eclectic meaningfulness in that it is open to anyone, anywhere in the world. Information not entertainment is central here. It is an appeal to the noble ideals of the press and journalism, which anyone can engage in by following established codes of conduct reasonably agreed upon such as that of the BBC.

Copyright Law:

According to the Writers and Artists Yearbook 2012 – a very handy book for authors of all kinds: “It is essential to seek permission to quote from anther author’s work, unless that author has been dead for 70 years or more, or 70 years or more has passed from the date of publication of a work published posthumously.

Only if you are quoting for purposes of criticism or review are you allowed to do so without obtaining permission, and even then the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act of 1988 restricts you to 400 words of prose in a single extract from a copyright work, or a series of extracts of up to 300 words each, totalling no more than 800 words, or up to 40 lines of poetry, which must not be more than 25% of the poem.

However, a quotation of no more than say, half a dozens words may usually be used without permission since it will probably not extend beyond a brief and familiar reference, as, for example, Rider Haggard’s well known phrase, she who must be obeyed.  If in doubt, always check.” [Ref: Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook 2012, Michael Legat, Page 689, ISBN 978-1-4081-3580-8]

Creative commons

Authors articles should be registered under Creative Commons Attribution license or through other copyright methods.  If other copyright methods are used, explicit permission to publish the article on the website must be included.  More can be found out about Creative Commons Attribution by following the link below:

Creative Commons Copyright


The Ethics which we are asking people to follow are to highlight, maintain and underpin responsibility, accountability and transparency in journalism.  By understanding the thoughts formulated into journalistic codes it is a move to raise quality through engagement. To this extent, the responsibility is with the author to adhere to the best practice explained in the BBC Editorial Guidelines:

BBC Editorial Guidelines

or another Journalistic Code which is cited in it’s place

Pew Research for Excellence in Journalism

Each author is asked to cite their information sources and include a few words at the end of their article about the conventions of the journalistic code they have followed, and their thoughts on the press in general.

Law and justice

The Law

All these frameworks rest on the foundation of the Law.  The law in it’s essence is, in it’s ideal, representative of everyone and serves as a social mediator between people. This area of life is vital to group living, and must underpin all of the activities entered into by the Ragged project. For this reason all authors are asked to make sure that their content accords with the laws governing Libel and Defamation so to avoid problems. By reading and adhering to these practices your voice will be more respected and reach further.
“Defamation is any published material that damages the reputation of an individual or an organisation. This covers material on the internet as well as radio and television broadcasts – so even drama and fiction can be defamatory if they damage someone’s reputation. You can only publish defamatory material if it comes within one of the recognised legal defences. If it doesn’t, the publication will amount to libel and you may have to pay substantial damages…” [Ref: How to avoid Libel and Defamation; BBC Website,, 29th August 2012]
…to read more on this subject follow the link…

How to Avoid Libel and Defamation


A Narrow History of the Press in the United Kingdom

Attitudes towards the press vary, and are bound to. By understanding some of the history of this area of life, the term Citizen Journalism can start to absorb the nuanced nature it requires…”By the early 19th century there were 52 London papers and over 100 other titles. As stamp, paper and other duties were progressively reduced from the 1830s onwards (all duties on newspapers were gone by 1855) there was a massive growth in overall circulation as major events and improved communications developed the public’s need for information.
The Daily Universal Register began life in 1785 and was later to become known as The Times from 1788. This was the most significant newspaper of the first half of the 19th century, but from around 1860 there were a number of more strongly competitive titles, each differentiated by its political biases and interests.

The Manchester Guardian was founded in Manchester in 1821 by a group of non-conformist businessmen. Its most famous editor, Charles Prestwich Scott, made the Manchester Guardian into a world-famous newspaper in the 1890s. It is now called The Guardian and published in London.

The Chartist Northern Star, first published on 26 May 1838, was a pioneer of popular journalism but was very closely linked to the fortunes of the movement and was out of business by 1852. At the same time there was the establishment of more specialised periodicals and the first cheap newspaper in the Daily Telegraph and Courier (1855), later to be known simply as the Daily Telegraph.


From 1860 until around 1910 is considered a ‘golden age’ of newspaper publication, with technical advances in printing and communication combined with a professionalisation of journalism and the prominence of new owners. Newspapers became more partisan and there was the rise of new or yellow journalism (see William Thomas Stead). Socialist and labour newspapers also proliferated and in 1912 the Daily Herald was launched as the first daily newspaper of the trade union and labour movement.
The Illustrated London News, founded in 1842, was the world’s first illustrated weekly newspaper. Mason Jackson, its art editor for thirty years, published in 1885 The Pictorial Press, a history of illustrated newspapers. The Illustrated London News was published weekly until 1971 when it became monthly; bimonthly from 1989; and then quarterly before publication ceased.” [Ref: Wikipedia, History of British Newspapers,, 29th August, 2012]

The fourth Estate

The Fourth Estate (or fourth estate) is a societal or political force or institution whose influence is not consistently or officially recognized. “Fourth Estate” most commonly refers to the news media; especially print journalism or “The Press”. Thomas Carlyle attributed the origin of the term to Edmund Burke, who used it in a parliamentary debate in 1787 on the opening up of Press reporting of the House of Commons of Great Britain. Earlier writers have applied the term to lawyers, to the British queens consort (acting as a free agent, independent of the king), and to the proletariat. The term makes implicit reference to the earlier division of the three Estates of the Realm.
The Press: In current use the term is applied to the Press, with the earliest use in this sense described by Thomas Carlyle in his book On Heroes and Hero Worship:  Burke said there were Three Estates in Parliament; but, in the Reporters’ Gallery yonder, there sat a Fourth Estate more important far than they all.

fourth estate

In Burke’s 1787 coining he would have been making reference to the traditional three estates of Parliament: The Lords Spiritual, the Lords Temporal and the Commons. If, indeed, Burke did make the statement Carlyle attributes to him, the remark may have been in the back of Carlyle’s mind when he wrote in his French Revolution (1837) that “A Fourth Estate, of Able Editors, springs up; increases and multiplies, irrepressible, incalculable.” In this context, the other three estates are those of the French States-General: the church, the nobility and the townsmen. Carlyle, however, may have mistaken his attribution: Thomas Macknight, writing in 1858, observes that Burke was merely a teller at the “illustrious nativity of the Fourth Estate”.
If Burke is excluded, other candidates for coining the term are Henry Brougham speaking in Parliament in 1823 or 1824 and Thomas Macaulay in an essay of 1828 reviewing Hallam’s Constitutional History: “The gallery in which the reporters sit has become a fourth estate of the realm.” By 1835, when William Hazlitt (another editor of Michel de Montaigne see below) applied the term to an individual journalist, William Cobbett, the phrase was well established.

Oscar Wilde wrote: ‘In old days men had the rack. Now they have the Press. That is an improvement certainly. But still it is very bad, and wrong, and demoralizing. Somebody – was it Burke? – called journalism the fourth estate. That was true at the time no doubt. But at the present moment it is the only estate. It has eaten up the other three. The Lords Temporal say nothing, the Lords Spiritual have nothing to say, and the House of Commons has nothing to say and says it. We are dominated by Journalism.”

In American English, the phrase “fourth estate” is contrasted with the “fourth branch of government”, a term that originated because no direct equivalents to the estates of the realm exist in the United States. The “fourth estate” is used to emphasize the independence of the Press, while the “fourth branch” suggests that the Press is not independent of the government. In July 2012 U.S.presidential candidate Mitt Romney used the “fourth estate” variation when defending himself against negative media reporting of a trip to Europe.
Alternative meanings: In European law: In 1580 Montaigne proposed that governments should hold in check a fourth estate of lawyers selling justice to the rich and denying it to rightful litigants who do not bribe their way to a verdict:

What is more barbarous than to see a nation […] where justice is lawfully denied him, that hath not wherewithall to pay for it; and that this merchandize hath so great credit, that in a politicall government there should be set up a fourth estate [tr. Latin: quatriesme estat] of Lawyers, breathsellers and pettifoggers […]. Michel de Montaigne, in the translation by John Florio, 1603

The proletariat: An early citation for this is Henry Fielding in The Covent Garden Journal (1752): “None of our political writers…take notice of any more than three estates, namely, Kings, Lords, and Commons…passing by in silence that very large and powerful body which form the fourth estate in this community…The Mob.”  This is an early use of “mob” to mean the mobile vulgus, the common masses.
This sense has prevailed in other countries: In Italy, for example, striking workers in 1890s Turin were depicted as Il quarto stato ‘The Fourth Estate’ in a painting by Giuseppe Pellizza da Volpedo. A political journal of the left, Quarto Stato, published in Milan, Italy, in 1926, also reflected this meaning.
British Queens Consort: In a parliamentary debate of 1789 Thomas Powys, 1st Baron Lilford, MP, demanded of minister William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham that he should not allow powers of regency to “a fourth estate: the queen”. This was reported by Burke, who, as noted above, went on to use the phrase with the meaning of “press”. [Ref: Wikipedia – The Fourth Estate,, 29th August 2012]

Glass houses

Why the Name: The Glass House

The Ragged project simple is creating the free platform to enable people to take part in journalism – this necessarily means that the website and project maintains a value neutral position relating to freedom of speech. The phrase Glass House helps project this view of the experiment, where in this context it is primarily a computer term relating to “A data center or computer centre (also datacenter) is a facility used to house computer systems and associated components, such as telecommunications and storage systems. It generally includes redundant or backup power supplies, redundant data communications connections, environmental controls (e.g., air conditioning, fire suppression) and security devices.

With an increase in the uptake of cloud computing, business and government organizations are scrutinizing data centers to a higher degree in areas such as security, availability, environmental impact and adherence to standards.

Standard Documents from accredited professional groups, such as the Telecommunications Industry Association, specify the requirements for data center design. Well-known operational metrics for data center availability can be used to evaluate the business impact of a disruption. There is still a lot of development being done in operation practice, and also in environmentally friendly data center design. Data centers are typically very expensive to build and maintain.” [Wikipedia – Glass House disambiguation for Datacentre,, 29th August 2012]
The phrase has multiple meanings which complement the complex meanings of the Fourth Estate.  The Glass House holds meanings which include a building where plants are cultivated, and allusion to transparency, the proverb ‘people in glass houses should not throw stones’ and a military prison in the British Army.


Send your article via the contact form with “Citizen Journalism” in the subject title. Please include contact details and links out to your own blogs/websites/facebook pages etc.  Journalism tools can be found in the Free Resources section of the website. Please help pilot this model and refine it so that the press is representative of everyone’s voice.

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