Monthly Archives: October 2012

Citizen Journalism – here to complement other forms of reporting not replace them

Our reading this week focused on citizen journalism.  We read the rise two pieces; one was called challenges and value of citizen journalism by John Kelly. The other Quality Control perceived effects of user generated content on news room norms values and routines by Jane Singer.

Personally I am a fan of citizen journalism. I think it contributes a lot to Journalism for two main reasons.

Firstly being the simple fact that Journalist will not be able to cover all stories. To have someone to cover the news that’s not a journalist is better than no one at all. When the disaster of Tsunami happened in 2004 what made it such a spectacular story was the remarkable video footage that was recorded by a tourist on holiday. Without this we would not be able to relate to the story as much.

Secondly, and this is looking at it from more of a user generated comment view, I think it’s great that the audiences can add to what is news, after all they are the people that consume it. People who contribute to these through discussion boards, polls, blogs etc all have their personal opinions. I think it is interesting to see how these different views can form a conversation which results as a form of news reporting.

However citizen journalism, for me, cannot be considered ‘official journalism’. That’s not to say that the content they produce is not worth reading because they are not proper journalist. More the fact that Journalist know more about the industry they’ve studied. Of Corse they do as they practice it for years at university learning and developing skills whilst building knowledge and sources.  

In a survey that Jane Singer did experienced journalists saw themselves as ‘better then citizen journalists’. I would not go as far as this but I would certainly say they are more knowledgeable due to the skills they have picked up.  

There is then the issue that citizen journalism and UGC is not accountable.  If a non-journalist starts producing content they may make some excellent points and even have evidence but that is never going to compare to a journalist with solid sources. Many people may even prefer to see what the citizen journalist has to say, as this fits better with their version of events was but I think the industry could become dangerous if people were to use UGC as an official source.

The main thing I concluded from these texts was that whilst citizen journalism is certainly contributing to Journalism it will never replace it.  I even think that those who are massive fans and even participate in citizen journalism would agree with this.  Citizen journalism is a great option to have it’s something you would often read and help you to form an opinion. Nevertheless you would always want the official journalism with it, where you can to some extent get a neutral version of events written by people whose skills you can trust.

Time for students to take over the journalism online world?

For this week’s reading we had a look at the ‘online revolution’ in the local press.  We did this by analysing Turning around the Tanter: Implementing Trinity Mirrors online strategy.

I have to start by saying it was no surprise to me that, like the national papers, circulation and sales figures were declining in the local print world. I personally don’t see the appeal of buying local newspapers. Most of the big stories are already covered in the national press, can be seen in a similar paper which is free or even watched on the local news.

However advertising is what is keeping this sector going. Advertising is so high that it means that actually many of the local papers are profitable. The question is: How much longer will this last for?

Companies and importantly advertisers now want multi-media content. They believe it’s essential in helping newspapers become a brand. They want to see websites with video footage, interviews, audio slideshows, podcasts etc.  The problem is how is this going to be implemented successfully?

From the case studies we looked at in the reading, a strong majority of the staff that Trinity Mirror agreed that there had to be some focus on their newspapers becoming multi media. Truthfully it would be hard to argue this. People are getting use to consuming media in different ways, for local press to keep up they simply have to do this.

This is not the issue the staff had. The issue was the lack of training and resources put into becoming an online paper. Not only that but workers were unhappy that despite having to do more work they were not going to be rewarded financially for their efforts and who can blame then?  To be expected to write stories for print and then use them online in a video content way is asking a lot. To do that without any extra financial incentive is even more ridiculous.

There is also the worry of the quality of journalism suffering. Video content is used heavily in entertainment and sport due to the strong visual effects, yet seem less effective in things such as politics.  How are they going to strike a balance between reporting the important stories and getting good online content for the less serious issues?

One of the women from the case study said that ‘digital and video are definitely the future but we’ll need more resources to do it right’. Referring to more training and staff in order to do their jobs properly. 

What I saw from this case study is a real opportunity for people who are studying journalism right now. We (I say we as I’m a student myself) don’t need to be heavily trained on how to use multimedia content because that’s what we have been doing for the last couple years.

This leads nicely to my title. If the future for journalism is online then the future for students is looking a whole lot brighter.  Maybe getting a job in this industry won’t be so hard after all! What are your thoughts?

Who knows what the future of journalism holds?

In life many people predict things, occasionally they get them right but more often than not they get it wrong.  

I just read James Curran: The Future of Journalism. Predictions varied from: Journalism not in crisis just in transition, to closing of papers being a good thing to bring a fresh start for journalists, to end of print journalism being an end to democracy. Such different views but who is right?

To say journalism is in crisis is wrong because simply there will always be a need for Journalists. People want news, they want to know what is going on in the world and they want sources they can trust.  There are jobs out there!

That is in part what contributes to being a democratic country. Journalism is struggling at the minute but that’s more to do with the harsh economic conditions that are going on.  Most organisations are suffering and going through transitions it’s how long these transitions last that really matter.

Could more papers being closed down be a good thing? Well in my opinion no but it would be hard to argue that citizen journalism and blogs have not created a breath of fresh air for the industry. I think these are the sort of journalists that people want to see in the future.

The end of print journalism being a threat to democracy, I’m not sure about that. I don’t think you could ever argue that until it really is the end of print journalism, which looks to be a while off.

So what is the future? Pay walls, blogs and citizen journalists thriving, funding to boost the number of journalist or even a mixture of all of them until a proper solution is found.

In chapter 1 of Technology Foretold by James Curran he discusses a few predictions in the 80s and 90s that were meant to revolutionise Journalism. Quite frankly they didn’t happen and what I’ve got from James is that we can make bold predictions to the future of Journalism, but in reality nobody really knows.

What do you guys think?

How the web changed the economics of news

We discussed this reading by Paul Bradshaw on the online journalism blog.

Paul has summed up what he feels has changed in Journalism in the last ten years because of the internet.

The message being portrayed in the article is how online journalism will; if not already take over from print.  He has lost faith in print journalism for a number of reasons.  The reasons seem to stem from two things: What audiences want to see and what advertisers are willing to do. This is in favour of online journalism and that if you want to be a journalist these days you have to adapt yourself to these changes.

At face value the article is basically saying what many people are predicting. Online Journalism is the future.  I agree with most of what he says but points four and six are particularly flawed in my opinion.

Everyone going to Amazon for a book review? Amazon will give you a review of popular public opinion but many people still want quality journalism. Will they get that from Amazon? Unlikely. How about from a journalist who has studied many different books and has knowledge in this field? Probably.

Also the point about reduced cost of newsgathering. Paul really needs to be clearer in what he’s saying here.  Once again if people want quality news, and many of them do, then they are not going to get that from not having limited sources. Who is going to get these sources because they don’t just magically appear on the web!

More on the future of Journalism in the next blog post.