Citizen Journalism Seminar in Helena, July 14

by jhwygirl

Oh – let me say right off I know that some people are going to find this controversial. What I will say is that an informed citizen reads news from multiple sources and parses that information for the real truth and bigger picture.

I also know I can always use pointers on my research and (what little an anonymous blogger can do) investigation skills. I think it’s great that this Montana Watchdog and the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity sponsored event is open to everyone.

Both orgs there are right-leaning (I don’t think either would deny that) – but in the end, regardless of where we bloggers are coming from, basics are basics.

And you know? Back in the old days, we all used to talk to each other..left and right. With that all said, I thank Phil Drake of Montana Watchdog for sending over the invite for everyone:

HELENA – The Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity, along with Montana Watchdog, invites all bloggers and the general public to a “citizen watchdog” event July 14 that focuses on online news and open government.

The Franklin Center will provide a full day of in-depth training to equip bloggers and citizens with the tools and skills to become a more effective activist and citizen watchdog. Participants will learn how to use investigative reporting skills, how to impact the state and local government budgeting process, and how to advance your message through social media.

The nonpartisan event is an opportunity for discussion and mingling among bloggers and citizens from throughout the state.

There will be an opportunity to ask questions.

Lunch is included in the $10 registration fee. Seating is limited and advance registration is required.

The event runs from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Red Lion Colonial Hotel, 2301 Colonial Drive in Helena.

To register, go to:

If you have questions, contact Watchdog editor Phil Drake at or (406) 442-4561.

  1. Thanks for posting this. The most important lesson I’ve learned from working on HB 198 and transmissions issues is to listen to all sides. And – I can always use insight for my investigative skills, wherever that may come from. So I’m curious as to what will be presented at this event, and I’m game to give it a try.

    • HB198 (the eminent domain bill) was and is a nightmare of power handed away from the government directly into the hands of private corporations.

      And an excellent example of where citizen journalism skills would benefit.

  2. Rob Kailey

    “Back in the old days, we all used to talk to each other..left and right.”

    Yes, we did. Of course, ‘dat were ‘dem olden days when the left used to actually talk to the left and the right used to talk to the right. That was before the left started identifying those who might disagree as ‘really’ the right, and the right started identifying those who might even listen to the left as “traitors”, “socialists”, “RINOs” and what not. See, a whole big part of talking used to be listening. It isn’t anymore and hasn’t been for some time.

    That’s the entire problem with “citizen watchdogs”. Those, these, folk used to be called “citizen journalists” until it became obvious that this was never about journalism or information, and all about agenda. I really shouldn’t have to point out that “activist” and “citizen watchdog” are not even remotely the same thing.

    (Just as a source of urban legend amusement, look in the mirror and say the words “citizen watchdog” 3 times. I’ll bet the image in the mirror will change to be the Hitler Youth….)

    There are those who do a great deal to illuminate and change perception online. The Wargarblers were unbelievably successful back in the early decade of the ‘oughts. Local bloggers are also significant. Gregg Smith, back when he was taking the city of Great Falls to task, and you, jhwygirl, when you take on the structure of Missoula. But what I find funny as hell is the disdain for outlets like Montana Cowgirl around these very parts that post opinionated fact, and yet it must not be fact if one disagrees. That’s the problem with citizen watchdogs. They are rarely after any truth, but rather seek tools to convince others of what the “truth” is. The whole effort is predicated on the idea that there is no truth save what the best equipped can say the truth is.

    I don;t find your promotion of this seminar controversial, jhwygirl. There is nothing that breeds controversy about it. If it offers skills for people committed to a cause, good or bad, then I support your promotion of it. I simply have a low opinion of the pompous nature of its presentation by MTWatchdog and CGPI. Their agendas have nothing to do with controversy and everything to do with rightward movement of public will. I’ll bet dollars to donuts that others find my disdain for it controversial, though.

  3. lizard19

    this sounds like an opportunity to have some good face-to-face interaction with people who probably wouldn’t get the chance to meet otherwise.

    communicating in person often produces better results than communicating online. hell, even at work it’s amazing to see how e-mails can be taken the wrong way.

    • Rob Kailey

      I am sincerely curious, Lizard. Exactly what “results” do you think you can expect, or would be “better”?

      • Pete Talbot

        Gotta go with Wolfie on this one. I call this right washing — you know, like green washing and white washing — trying to put a legitimate face on illegitimate organizations.

        It would be like Montana Cowgirl hosting a “nonpartisan” workshop for bloggers and the public. Give me a break.

        Here’s a post I did on a similar seminar these folks held last year.

        • lizard19

          you won’t know if you don’t attend. and if you don’t attend, then maybe it will be what you say it is. regardless of political affiliation, it would be fun to converse with people.

          • Pete Talbot

            As I said in the link above, liz, I don’t mind these folks getting together for a righty seminar and chewing the fat. It’s the subterfuge — presenting it as a “nonpartisan event” with the likes of Montana Watchdog hosting. You should go check it out. Tell me if I’m wrong.

            • lizard19

              I would love to. I think Dustin is dreamy. alas, instead of attending, I may have to be happy with my futile tweets of longing to this budding journalist taking Montana by storm.

  4. KC Whistle

    It sounds interesting but I’m going to the Chrishun Mingle Meetup instead, or something similar but with loud rock music and drinking. Kudos to MtWatchdog for organizing another interesting alternative for the weekend.

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