How Many Layers of Citizen Journalism?

Citizen journalism, social media, citizen media, social networking -  what do they mean to the future of journalism.  It’s an evolving debate.  Without question aforementioned descriptions of people power are more inviting than frightening.  Broadcast Newsroom Computing covered many aspects of the debate this week and will continue next week.

Poynter Institute contributor Steve Outing proposes 11 layers of “citizen journalism.”  The advisor raises interesting points to consider when planning a citizen journalism initiative.  Outing writes it’s “about harnessing the power of an audience permitted for the first time to truly participate in the news media. “

1.  The self-proclaimed thought leader writes simplicity and universal application are contrary to citizen journalism.  There are many variations.  He says the first is “opening up to public comment” – acceptance the audience must be permitted to comment on stories.

2.  Once acceptance is achieved Outing calls it stepping up the ladder from putting your toe in the water – the citizen add-on reporter.  Pooling resources with non-professionals on certain stories.

3. We’re climbing the ladder.  “Open-source reporting – this is getting serious about citizen journalism according to the new media sage.  Also referred to by Outing as participatory journalism.  He advises it is an ad hoc style.

4.  Are we serious yet?  Outing defines the next step up the ladder as  “the citizen bloghouse.”  Albeit a moderated presentation of most stories offered by citizens he places it one rung below requirement for transparency in presentation.

5.  Next Outing suggests what he calls a special type of blog – “Newsroom citizen ‘transparency’ blogs.”   It is one form of “news as a conversation” permitting open criticism and praise.

6.  We’re getting in deeper with “stand-alone citizen-journalism.”  Stories created by citizens and edited by professionals.

7.  “Stand-alone citizen-journalism” unedited is really getting into deep water.

8. Add a print compilation of citizen stories for publication.  Outing says ink and paper distribution lives.

9.  The next level he calls hybrid “Pro + citizen journalism.”  Sort of a buddy system with an average person in the news conversation.

10. Now this is a total embrace.  “Integrate(sic) citizen and pro journalism under one roof” says Outing.  

11.  This gets the geeky award for requiring significant digital literacy.  “Wiki journalism” sort of like Wikipedia.  You write a story and any and everyone can edit it.  It’s a total free for all.

Some new thinking from Mr. Outing.  

Tomorrow’s Friday’s Memo from BNC examines creativity in the sales department.

James Rowe

Rowe and Company, LLC


One Response to “How Many Layers of Citizen Journalism?”

  1. Just to clarify, I wrote the “11 Layers” article back in 2005 when I was working for Poynter. I haven’t updated the article, so please read it in the context of 2005; things have changed a bit since then!

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