Welcome to The Citizen.

Forgive us for being so bold as to declare ourselves the newest thing in journalism in Australia.

We recognise that our claim to that title will necessarily be fleeting, such is the rapidly evolving online landscape.

Forget the economics of journalism for a moment – the old business models are broken, haven’t you heard?

Instead, sites like this one are bobbing up, looking to back-fill as traditional media sheds staff and resources, and can no longer cast its net as widely as it once did.

We take no joy from that reality. After all, this site is a product of the University of Melbourne’s Centre for Advancing Journalism.

As such, we aim to champion the craft of fair and honest journalism, regardless of who is delivering it. We want good journalism to survive and prosper, because we believe it’s critical to a healthy democracy, and we hope that The Citizen can make a useful contribution, however modest.

Our intention is just to produce good journalism, sourced from the students in the University’s Master of Journalism program and from industry professionals.

And we’re mixing things up a bit, too, embracing a different way of working, a kind of ‘pro-am’ in which seasoned reporters collaborate with our students. We reckon there is no better way of teaching a new generation of journalists than getting them to work alongside respected and experienced practitioners.

Our story list is necessarily eclectic, reflecting the interests of our students, and is presented in a range of styles – from news and features, to simple storyboards. Media is a particular bent, stemming from the Centre’s work, and we’re happy to give that subject its own space.

As we make our way, we plan to reach out to other news sites and to citizen participants; also, to make available the research findings of the Centre, as well as reporting on its public forums. In fact, The Citizen itself is a kind of research-in-action project. We hope to try a few new things. Some might sink, or fail. But we see it as part of this publication’s role to just get out there and have a go.

The University Council agrees, and late last year signed off on The Citizen’s Charter of Editorial Integrity, which guarantees our independence and fortifies our masthead. (You can find the Charter published in full in the ‘About’ section.)

We know we are not perfect, but pledge to put things right when we mis-step. We are journalism’s newest venture, and we reckon it will be an adventure, too.