[Keyword: online journalism]. Runner’s World, of all things, is being used as a blueprint, according to the Media Guardian. Welcome to the world, NatMags, although it’s worrying that none of the new staff seem to be there to produce content and “Editorial content and control will rest with existing magazine editorial teams”. So, how do you prevent this being another shovelware/extra-job-for-overworked-sub?
[Keyword: online journalism]. The Guardian, of course, has announced that it is to publish more stories online ahead of its print version. Great, lovely, super, as Jim Bowen would say.
But there’s a good analysis at Poynter, which picks up on the line saying that some stories will be held back for print publication.
“It remains to be seen how many Guardian articles will be treated as exclusive,
and thereby go “paper first.” … the really interesting shift will come when
exclusive stories — and I mean the prestigious exclusive stories — are
launched first on the site.”
The writer identifies “four distinct archetype models of publishing for exclusive stories:
- Value Model: Exclusive stories are published first wherever the audience is most valuable.
- Story Model: The exclusive story breaks in whichever channel is best suited according to that channel’s strengths and weaknesses.
- Speed Model: Any story breaks in the fastest channel.
- Channel Model: A story follows the channel where it arose. (The good old nothing-has-changed model.)”
“In my opinion,” he says “The Guardian is trying to look like a “Speed Model” organization, while in reality they admit to being a “Value Model” organization. Or at least switching between the two. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s just that it doesn’t seem right to claim to be something you’re not. “
[Keyword: online journalism, computer assisted reporting]. Here’s a good set of tips from the Online Journalism Review on using the internet to improve your journalism. “Online writers can solicit leads and advice from readers through open source reporting, or even ask readers to report a story themselves, through a distributed reporting project.”
This really forces you to re-think some of the fundamental work processes of journalism. Open Source Reporting, for instance, involves you announcing the topic you wish to investigate, and inviting readers to “submit leads, tips, sources and ideas”, with the potential benefits outweighing the potential loss of a scoop.
[Keyword: online journalism]. Martin Stabe responds to criticism of the Press Gazette Citizen Journalism awards in the latest issue (including from myself), demonstrating neatly how journalism is becoming more of a ‘dialogue’ as consumers become producers.
He sums up the objections in four areas:
- Protectionist (“they’re not real journalists, but we are”)
- Overbroad (“most of it’s not intended to be journalism”)
- Narrow (“Why only images and video?”)
- Redundancy (“Journalists are citizens too”)
It seems to me that the debate around the terminology (including the NUJ’s much-ridiculed decision to prefer the term “witness contributors”) is a moot one. Clearly the term has gained currency, however meaningless its constituent parts (yes, we’re all citizens, so that part is redundant; and yes, much of the journalism was never intended to be so).
We could come up with alternative suggestions for years to come, but the essential point is this: people (generally) understand what you mean by ‘citizen journalism’, and it’s nothing to do with its constituent parts – the phrase has taken on a life of its own, and it’s too late to stop it.
Citizen journalism means articles, images, video, audio and interactive media produced by those not employed directly by news organisations to do so. That includes people lucky (or unlucky) enough to be able to take pictures or footage of a major event; it includes bloggers/podcasters/vodcasters writing/broadcasting about their areas of expertise (or not); it includes those writing for citizen journalism projects such as Ohmynews and Bayosphere, whether they publish journalism elsewhere or not; it includes alternative media projects such as IndyMedia; it even, if you want to go this far, includes people writing in to your letters page.
Now let’s get onto the more important question: where’s the good stuff?
[Keyword: online journalism]. Here’s a great and well-considered article by Eric Kintz on the need for bloggers to ignore the principle of frequent posting. More important in a world swamped with bloggers, is to write quality posts and get involved in the blogosphere. It’s quite a wake-up call – although it should be remembered that many bloggers (myself included) use their blogs as diaries-cum-bookmarks: a place to store all those useful sites and articles they come across from day to day.
For citizen journalists, however, the following points he make are particularly worth considering:
“#6: Frequent posting drives poor content quality – The pressure of daily posting drives many bloggers to re-purpose other bloggers’ content or give quick un-insightful comments on the news. Few bloggers have enough time (or expertise) to write daily thought leadership pieces, thus adding to the clutter. Some of the most insightful –and most quoted- marketing thought blogging leaders are actually infrequent posters, from Sam Decker to Charlene Li or Randi Baseler.
“#7: Frequent posting threatens the credibility of the blogosphere – as many bloggers re-purpose existing content under the pressure of daily posting, they do not take the time to do any sort of due diligence and conduct effective research. Errors snowball in the blogosphere as they spread from one blogger to the other. The collective wisdom of user generated content was supposed to provide an alternative to biased traditional media content – it is instead echoing the thoughts and biases of a few.
“#8 – Frequent posting will push corporate bloggers into the hands of PR agencies – As they struggle with bandwidth constraints as well as peer pressure to join the blogosphere, more and more companies will resort to partnering with their PR agencies to create blogs. The blogosphere will in turn lose some of its effectiveness and value.”
“The T&A TV News service is being updated with a new video news story every day and has already broken one big exclusive – the first interview of any kind with Ayaz Ali, the Bradford charity worker freed after 20 days in an Israeli prison following his arrest over alleged connections with terrorist organisations.”