Monthly Archives: June 2005

11-steps to incorporating citizen journalism in your site

[Keyword: ]. Steve Outing has put together a great 11-step guide to incorporating citizen journalism in your site – an article so good I’m thinking of ways to ‘highlight’ this posting so it stands out as a particularly useful one. Here’s the bare bones:

  1. Opening up to public comment
  2. The citizen add-on reporter (i.e. “solicit information and experiences from members of the public, and add them to the main story to enhance it.”)
  3. Open-source reporting (“a collaboration between a professional journalist and his/her readers on a story, where readers who are knowledgeable on the topic are asked to contribute their expertise, ask questions to provide guidance to the reporter, or even do actual reporting which will be included in the final journalistic product”)
  4. The citizen bloghouse (adding reader blogs to your site)
  5. Newsroom citizen ‘transparency’ blogs (“inviting readers to blog with public complaints, criticism, or praise for the news organization’s ongoing work. […] A milder form of this is the editor’s blog — typically written by a paper’s top editor and explaining the inner workings of the newsroom and discussing how specific editorial decisions are made”)
  6. The stand-alone citizen-journalism site: Edited version (“establishing a news-oriented Web site that is comprised entirely or nearly entirely of contributions from the community”)
  7. The stand-alone citizen-journalism site: Unedited version
  8. Add a print edition
  9. The hybrid: Pro + citizen journalism (e.g. OhmyNews)
  10. Integrating citizen and pro journalism under one roof
  11. Wiki journalism: Where the readers are editors (e.g. Wikinews)

Amazingly, he also provides examples of nearly all of these (note that these are not necessarily techniques he advises using all of the time, every time).

UPDATE: Outing has since added ‘wikitorials’, although he’s yet to find out what it is yet…

Simon Waldman’s speech on the opportunity/threat of RSS and news aggregators

[Keyword: ]. A little late to report, but it’s worth reading Simon Waldman’s speech on the opportunity/threat of RSS and news aggregators, in which he sees “three critical issues we are going to face with RSS.

“The first is what’s happening to our readers.

“The second is what’s happening to our content.

“And the third – is what’s going to happen to our classified ads.”

On the second he makes these points:

“The prioritisation, structure and design that we have given to our content in our papers – and on our websites – is lost as we all become just one feed among many.

“[…] My three tips for dealing with it are simple to say – but tricky to implement.

“The first is your content itself […] has to be distinctive – it has to be able to stand out on a global news stand.

“[…] The second is more technical – but has to do with how your site is technically marked up, to make sure that you can offer exactly the feeds that people want, and that the information is presented in exactly the right way.

“And the third is that you have to think of the story page on your site – as your front page.”

Finding local blogs – if you’re in America

[Keyword: ]. Thanks again to Poynter for pointing out the latest blog search engine which allows you to search by location and subject. Sadly, Blogdigger Local only allows you to search by US zip codes and state names – surely someone can do the same for the UK, or the world? (although Blogdigger promises to expand its range in time)

For now we’ll have to settle for tools more suited to sailors: Jonathon Dube suggests, “if you want to search outside of the U.S., you can use the Blogdigger Local Advanced Search form [http://local.blogdigger.com/adv.jsp] and enter your latitude/longitude coordinates.”

So how do you easily find those coordinates? My tip is Multimap: once you’ve found a place it lists the latitude and longitude below the map.

PS: Other location-based blog search engines recommended by Poynter include FeedMap (http://www.csthota.com/blogmap): “The only blogs included in here are ones that individuals have entered. Anyone can geo-code their blog and enter it, and once they do so they get a “BlogMap” to put on their site.”

– And Videoblogger Map, “a map of videobloggers around the world (http://www.videoblogging.info/map/index.php). Click on the dots to go to individual blogs. There aren’t very many on here, but it’s a nice approach and could be handy as more are added.”

A suggestion for improving site registration schemes

[Keyword: ]. Poynter’s Steve Outing has a suggestion for improving registration schemes: a big “PLEASE REGISTER” banner above the content, which will go away when they register.

“My guess is that nearly all regular users of a site employing this scheme will register, in order to make the registration-request graphic go away. One-time visitors won’t, but they’ll still get what they want — and be exposed to the site’s advertisers.”

Half the population on broadband

[Keyword: ]. Another survey shows the take-up of broadband Internet in homes is reaching a critical mass for the industry. About half of homes in South Korea have fast connections and Europe is close to overtaking it. Nearly half of homes in Denmark and the Netherlands now have fast Internet access, and the rate of increase is pretty high, according to a Dutch research company, TelecomPaper.

In New Zealand, where I’m based, the media industry is pretty wary about putting broadcast media content online or about adding to current (essentially shovelware) online content, saying they’ll wait till dial-up is replaced by faster, always-on connections for most people. I tend to be sceptical about arguments that technology drives the media, but on this one maybe the changing infrastructure is the next big thing for online journalism, just because it’s been holding things back for so long.

Blogs lead, but they also follow

[Keyword: ]. Interesting article in The Guardian about research from the Pew Internet & American Life Project that looked at 40 “of the biggest and most respected political blogs and the extent to which they influence and are influenced by other media.”:

“Its results show that bloggers are generally following another agenda, whether that of a political party or another medium, but also highlights the extent to which they can now influence the mainstream media on certain topics. “Sometimes blogs lead and can be very influential and other times they’re followers,” he says.

“… Rathergate showed that when bloggers were able to access primary evidence in the same way as newspaper journalists, they could run with a story.”

Writer Owen Gibson comments that in the UK, “With the odd exception (Guido Fawkes’ Order-Order.com and Mick Fealty’s Slugger O’Toole blog on Northern Ireland for example), there is little heavyweight comment and it is rare to see a blog break a story or substantially move it on” – this being attributed to the “more rambunctious nature” of the UK press, although Neil McIntosh, the assistant editor of Guardian Unlimited,

“says that a breakthrough Rathergate moment is inevitable sooner or later. “You’d be daft to say never. All that it takes is someone to see that a properly produced Private Eye-style blog would work brilliantly on the web. You’ll get something like that in Britain.” Cornfield also points to evidence of bloggers mobilising the “No” vote in the French referendum on the EU constitution as proof that it just takes the right kind of issue to spark interest.”

Innovative online journalism

[Keyword: ]. Matthew Buckland at Poynter highlights a great example of “how effectively blogging and online multimedia can be used to report on an event on almost zero budget.”

To quote:

“At the recent launch of Creative Commons South Africa, attended by none other than the father of Creative Commons himself, Lawrence Lessig, a group of Rhodes University (South Africa) new-media journalism students blogged the conference in real time, on their laptops and with their mobile phones and video cameras. The site was continually accessed by delegates in real time via wi-fi as the presentations happened.

“The innovative students even built their own content management system for the conference. They note on their website, “… One of the features we identified quite early is the use of mobile phones to post images directly from the event to the website. This is done by conference delegates by posting pictures from their camera phones via MMS-to-Email. Our server checks the POP mail account for new images and publishes them on the site. This type of innovative journalism is a small part of our broader approach to change journalistic practice in Africa.”

normalising blogging

[Keyword: ]. When journalists blog, they stick pretty close to the traditional role of information provider, according to an article in the latest issue of the Journalism journal (link is to subscription content, but the abstract’s free). That shouldn’t be news to anyone who reads j-blogs from inside news organisations, but it’s a reminder that we’re a long way from the we media that so many commentators are waiting for.

Jane Singer found that almost none of the 20 US j-blogs she studied allowed users to post comments. Some regional or local newspaper blogs quoted and referred to their readers’ feedback, but the big national media had almost no reader content. She also found that, although postings often had links (an average of 2.3 per post), the overwhelming majority were either to the host news organisation website or to a small number of elite news sites (Washington Post, NY Times, etc). Her conclusion: journalists ‘are unwilling to relinquish or even share their gatekeeping role’.

I think she’s right on the reason why. Most journalists doing blogs for their news organisations see blogging as a high-tech extension of their existing job rather than as something different. Columnists write blogs like their columns and reporters provide info, with links to the places they always get their news from.