What are your “shining ideals” when it comes to citizen journalism?

Tom Grubisich’s article in the Online Journalism Review this week runs down a list of Citizen Journalism hubs and checks how things are turning out. (Be sure to read the comments for insta-reactions from the proprietors and users of some of the sites.)

His thesis, after reviewing the sites, is that few, if any, live up to the “shining ideal” of what CJ should/could be.

Some CJ sites attempt to be local hubs for soccer scores and city council news, but it looks like most of the postings are just glorified classified ads or recipes. It can’t all be pineapple salsa, though, right?

What do you think a CJ site should be?

A forum for users to post, unedited, unmediated, anything from what their dog did today to why the mayor is a dog?

A news-oriented site with assignments given out to local amateurs by paid professionals?

Something in between?

I’ve been trying to figure out why all these CJ sites look more like a bulletin board than a forum to exchange ideas.

In Greensboro, North Carolina, the News-Record newspaper has managed to incorporate blogs and podcasts of their own making, which is nice, but check out the Town Square section.

The “Local Hubs” part of Town Square seems to consist of just one neighborhood for now, but there are stories here, written by locals, not by pros. Yes, some are just about pie and pancake breakfast sort of things, but there they are.

Far more interesting, of course, is the “Your News” section, with stories submitted by readers. Citizens doing Journalism. I’m pretty sure these are edited, understanding that when I say “edited,” I don’t mean “censored.” I mean an editor has read the submission and given the writer corrections and interacted with them to polish the story for publication. Just like editors do with “regular” journalists.

SO:

It looks like Tom Grubisich is right about the pineapple salsa sites, but, for me, the greatest potential hosts for Citizen Journalism are the local news organizations that already have the readership, the advertisers and the audience. I’d have no qualms publishing my stories online at the Santa Cruz Sentinel or San Jose Mercury News sites, would you?

[tags]citizen journalism, greensboro, ojr[/tags]

3 Replies to “What are your “shining ideals” when it comes to citizen journalism?”

  1. Greetings, and thanks for the link!

    Yes, stuff submitted to YourNews is edited, but very lightly. Specifically, we edit for libel considerations — we’re a big, fat, attractive target for a lawsuit, so it makes sense to do so. And I will edit for spelling, grammar and punctuation if failure to do otherwise would get in the way of the writer’s voice and message being heard. But otherwise, it’s the writer’s diction and syntax, the writer’s organization, the writer’s message.

    And, yes, the Hometown Hubs concept will be expanded to other communities in coming months — not only small towns but also communities of interest (e.g., youth soccer, model railroading, etc.).

  2. You’re welcome, Lex! Thanks for commenting!

    I understand the libel issues (in a media law class this semester – I really understand). It sounds like the editing is essentially Opinion Page style editing – you don’t change the message or the POV, you just make sure the subjects and verbs agree and let it ride. That makes perfect sense to me.

    If I understand correctly, your “communities of interest” sounds like a great way to connect people. Will users define the communities (categories in a forum?) or will they be aggregated by user tags or some other means?

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