Steve Outing’s most recent Stop the Presses column for Editor and Publisher, “New Desk in the Newsroom: The Citizen Editor’s,” does an excellent job of reporting on the experiences of early-MSM-adopters of citizen journalism. One standout passage that caught our eye:
"(A) misconception about citizen editing is that the content you’ll get to work with will be mostly dreck. But Backfence.com’s experience is contrary to that notion. “The content we’ve received [so far] is better than what you’d expect,” says Mark Potts, co-founder of Backfence.com. Non-journalists “can write,” he says — “not in the classic journalism style, but it is readable, and it’s not written in third-grade language.”Outing also reports on what they are looking for when hiring citizen editors. To summarize:
In other words, get rid of the old thinking that only trained journalists can tell stories. Accept the notion that people at the grassroots level have lots to communicate and offer, and help them do that. Then you will be a competent citizen editor."
It’s interesting that none of the sources in the article make mention of the ability to teach or educate the audience on how to be better citizen journalists. Knowing how to (and being able to) recruit folks is one thing, but it’s in the best interest of the editor to develop the skills of those recruited.
It is unlikely that newspapers will find many candidates that have all these skills. And if they do, they probably won’t be able to afford them. At a minimum, good citizen editor candidates will have some editing/writing skills; a decent understanding of online communities and a moderate knowledge of the local community. The other skills can be taught or learned on the job.
Posting in the comments because I couldn’t find your email addresses on the site. I wound up here because I was testing Blogdigger’s new local blog search and y’all were the first result that came up in Dallas.
Are y’all actually in Dallas? If so, would love to get together and chat-- we’re launching a “Wedia” business and would love to get your input on it.
Great article and web site . Keep u the stupendance work. Ooops atleast i think that s how i was supposse to spel it!