The Citizen Journalists Malaysia (CJMY) 3rd annual conference themed Citizen Journalists Contributing to Change took place from the 18th-20th May 2012 at The Royal Hotel in Penang. The three day conference was aimed at bringing together the nationwide Malaysiakini trained Citizen Journalists to celebrate their achievements, importance, to enhance skills, exchange ideas and to build the spirit of camaraderie.
Since the inception of CJMY in 2008, almost 400 CJs nationwide have been given stringent training on the ethics of journalism, editorial policies, video and editing, news writing, General Elections news reporting and photography amongst others. This year, the CJs were signed up for an internship program with Malaysiakini as they would be the largest voluntary deployment for the upcoming GE.
The CJMY movement has a division of 4 chapters. The Northern chapter is headed by Jimmy Leow, a Sales and Marketing Manager from Penang while the Central region chapter is headed by KS Ta who was a Senior general manager of a public listed company before retirement. The Borneo chapter is headed by Marcel Chong who was a soil specialist and the Southern region is headed by Steven Chen who is a retired Project Planner.
Having made serious and relentless voluntary contributions over the last four years, CJMY has produced news reports at grassroots level which instigate change. Being the watchful eye of the nation, CJMY is slowly escalating in popularity and is being contacted by numerous governmental and non-governmental agencies to solve problems of the grassroots. The people who have come forward to volunteer with the CJMY movement ranges from lecturers, doctors, finance managers, economists to housewives and students.
The first day of the the conference saw the Citizen Journalists nationwide coming together to share their experiences of their efforts over the last year. Many have covered on land-grab, evictions, demolition, customer service, abandoned housing, worker’s rights, community welfare right down to the plight of the Orang Seletar in Johor and Nayanti Moodliar’s kidnapping.
Premesh Chandran, CEO of Malaysiakini in his speech on the second day of the conference said that the only reason Malayskini decided to run with the CJMY program was to empower citizens to tell stories that Malaysiakini could not due to limited resource and locality. He acknowledged the efforts of citizen journalists in being the voice of the people and that it was changing lives.
During the highly energetic conference, citizen journalists sat through 5 seminars on CJMY moving towards sustainability, Editorial policies, Universal subtitling and content sharing, News production equipment and defamation and legal implications by the Bar Council.
At the launch of CJMY’s official and newly updated website, Lim Guan Eng has one serious note to relate to Citizen Journalists. He reminded CJs to keep in mind the values of humanity, integrity and professionalism in writing as these are elements that make a great story. He went on to say that “citizen journalists have given a chance to society to hear a different side to a story.”
On the final day of the conference, the citizen journalists engaged in a forum to iron out the creases and discuss ways to move forward as an independent news organisation.
Just before departure, CJMY turned up at Gurney Plaza clad in their blood-red conference T-shirts for a flash mob denouncing violence against journalists.
For more news on the collaborative efforts between CJMY and Malaysiakini for the coming GE: CJs to add strength to M’kini GE team