Mainstream news organizations have had mixed results with citizen news reporting. While crowd-sourcing efforts such as CNN’s iReport and Help Me Investigate have yielded valuable information, many other efforts have foundered, often on journalists’ expectation that citizen-created news must look like what the professionals produce to have value.
Enter community foundation-supported initiatives to enable citizens to report news in their communities.
Projects such as Akronist.com, The Rapidian and Winnipeg’s Community News Commons are demonstrating that may not always, walk or quack like the duck of mainstream journalism – but the stories that citizens tell about themselves and their communities engage and inform nonetheless. The three projects are winners of the Knight Community Information Challenge.
Engagement is a key word here. Generally, the professional newsroom is focused on content and has a tradition of one-way delivery of that content. As digital has opened up the pathways for two-way interaction, newsrooms are challenged to envision and implement direct engagement with people.