Last night I was in Wednesfield, Wolverhampton, the site of my last ethnographic case study of hyperlocal community media. I took the picture above. What do you see?
At first I was just taking a photo of the noticeboard, because I often think of the mediated, gated nature of community media in terms of the village noticeboard, and I’m not the only one. In short, you can put what you like up there, but only if the editors allow it by putting it under the glass. And depending on the location of the board, that doesn’t guarantee people will see it.
As I was taking the photo I noticed my reflection in the image, possibly because the information under the board wasn’t that relevant or up to date. It’s me, standing in the park I’m taking the picture in – there are actually leaves in the reflection that match quite nicely with the leaves in one of the leaflets. And it made me think, or at least reminded me of my situated nature, as someone who lives in a community and is also researching it. I’m at a stage of my ethnographic PhD work where this is coming up a lot, as my method of engaging with the community and its individuals develops and unfolds. But this is also worth considering. When you engage in citizen journalism, how will people read and appreciate it based on who you are? Do you have a reputation on Twitter for being the go-to person for reports of incidents? Or do you push your content into spaces by finding the right platforms, pages, spaces, forums or using the best keywords? Next time you post something, if people could see the reflection of you, like in my picture above, what would they see?