Category Archives: citizen journalism

Beyond the Newsroom: Blogging and Rethinking

Here are the top three ideas I left Day One of the Beyond the Newsroom seminar with: (The seminar is sponsored by the American Press Institute with The Poynter Institute.)

  • 1. Bloggers and Citizen Journalists are not the enemy. In fact, they could help strengthen newspapers’ bond with their readers and provide valuable content. So says John Wilpers, a veteran journalist who is now working as a consultant. He said journalists shouldn’t think of bloggers as replacements. Instead, think of them as covering something journalists don’t. Journalists are still needed, but so are bloggers. He noted that in his experience, some bloggers he has worked with became the best word-of-mouth advertisers for the newspaper. He convinced me.
  • 2. There are innovative journalists out there taking chances — and succeeding. Susan Goldberg, editor of The Plain Dealer, described how eight newspapers in Ohio share stories and work on projects together. What makes this surprising is these newspapers have different owners. Goldberg described how this sharing has allowed them to pay for state-wide polling and provide more depth of coverage on the state as a whole. They don’t share everything. If there is an area of competition, it remains. However, they do share stories daily and run the stories with the original bylines.
  • 3. There is not a one-size-fits-all solution for newspapers and online news providers. Butch Ward, managing director and faculty member of The Poynter Institute, noted that each organization is going to have to explore ideas and take a chance on those that might work for it. There is no easy fix to attracting readers and making money.
  • The seminar continues through Wednesday. I’ll post more highlights here later this week.

    Seminar to focus on newspaper newsrooms

    Starting tomorrow, I’ll be blogging and tweeting (@marducey) from the Beyond the Newsroom Seminar being sponsored by the American Press Institute and The Poynter Institute.

    The seminar focuses on ways newsrooms are tackling providing quality journalism in cash-strapped times. Speakers include author and media blogger Jeff Jarvis of Buzz Machine, and Charles Lewis of the Investigative Reporting Workshop.

    I’m looking forward to learning about ideas being worked on in the newsroom trenches and to sharing that with you. I’d be remiss if I did not thank the James H. Ottaway Fellowship program for making it possible for me to attend API’s seminar.

    If you are a jounajunkie like me, I encourage you to check out the American Press Institute’s offerings. In addition to opportunities to learn about the newspaper industry, the group offers a number of fellowships to make its programs accessible.

    Hero emerges in journalism hearings

    I watched the Senate committee’s hearing on the future of journalism yesterday from my computer at work. Well, watched isn’t the right word. It was more listened to.

    What struck me most about the hearings were two points:

    • The so-called “new media” folks testifying at the hearing are dreaming if they think citizen journalism can make up for having a news organization with the power and money to have reporters dedicated to stories, issues and people. (Can you image coverage of foreign affairs?) I’m not saying the news organization has to be paper based, but news organizations are essential. We can’t count on citizen journalists alone.
    • David Simon, former Baltimore Sun journalist and current Hollywood writer/producer, articulated so well what some of us print and former print journalists think. (For his full transcript click here.) One metaphor captured it precisely for me:

    “The very phrase citizen journalist strikes my ear as nearly Orwellian. A neighbor who is a good listener and cares about people is a good neighbor. He is not in any sense a citizen social worker. Just as a neighbor with a garden hose and good intention is not a citizen firefighter. To say so is a heedless insult to trained social workers and firefighters.”

    Thank you, David Simon. Thank you.

    Citizen Journalism standards published

    The Huffington Post has published standards for citizen journalism.

    It is, in essence, some of the basics taught in Newswriting 101 classes across the nation.

    Case in point:

    1. MAKE SURE YOU HAVE CHECKED FOR SPELLING AND GRAMMATICAL ERRORS.

    One of the items on the list, however, is something that even “professional” journalists sometimes forget to do.

    4. IF YOU MAKE A NEGATIVE, FACT-BASED ASSERTION A PERSON OR ORGANIZATION, YOU NEED TO REACH THAT PERSON OR ORGANIZATION FOR COMMENT.

    Just a few weeks ago, I watched a local TV newscast lead with a story on a BOCES tutor accused of having sex with a student. At no point did the reporter even mention trying to get a comment from the tutor or the tutor’s lawyer.

    How does that happen?

    I can guess how. You are putting together a story on deadline. Parents and school officials are easy to reach. The accused is not so easy. But that doesn’t mean journalists shouldn’t try to reach the accused and let the news audience know that.

    Congrats to the Huffington Post for making its standards clear and explaining some basics of journalism to those who didn’t go to J-School but want to report. Making these processes clear can only help journalism.