Saturday, July 10, 2010

Citizen Journalism Doesn't Cut It

A new study has shown the obvious: "citizen journalism" is, well, crap.

That is to say, not worth very much at all.
COLUMBIA, Mo. ¬— A team of researchers from the University of Missouri School of Journalism and two other schools say that even the top 60 citizen websites and bloggers are not filling the information shortfall that has resulted from cutbacks in traditional media.

"While many of the blogs and citizen journalism sites have done very interesting and positive things, they are not even close to providing the level of coverage that even financially stressed news organizations do today," said Margaret Duffy, associate professor at the Missouri School of Journalism. "Not only do these blogs and websites lack the staff to adequately cover stories, but most citizen journalism managers do not have the financial resources and business experience to make their websites viable over time."

Duffy collaborated with Esther Thorson, associate dean for graduate studies at the MU School of Journalism, and Mi Jangh, doctoral candidate at MU, along with others at Michigan State and North Carolina. The Pew and Knight foundations underwrote the research.

The researchers identified a number of factors including how much linking each website included, how much public participation they allowed or invited, how frequently news and content were updated, and whether the citizen websites provided contact information for the public.

Duffy says it is important to understand how citizen journalism and legacy news organizations co-exist. She believes it is critical that democracy have an effective journalistic presence. With many newspapers and broadcast news outlets struggling financially, she is concerned about the future of journalism.

"A strong democracy depends on vibrant, robust news coverage with informed citizens and voting public," Duffy said. "If news media have to cut back and are unable to provide the same level of coverage for their communities that they did in the past, citizen journalism may need to step in. That is why it is important to examine what these websites need to do to improve and survive.
Hey, if I could make a mere $1500/mth of this blog, by reporting in the best, most objective manner I know how.... I would offer it. But I can't imagine that 150 readers would pay $10/mth, or even that 1500 readers would pay $12/yr.

These are the sad economics of the blogosphere. So where are things supposed to go, with secondary newspapers dying and blogs being economically unable to take their place.

Huh? (I'm just as confused as you are.

1 comment:

rhhardin said...

Nobody wants hard news (eg city council meetings). So the news biz model is soap opera women, who are easy to lure because what lures them is easy to produce. Call it soap opera news.

That's 40% of females, 20% of the population, pretty big.

That audience is the product of news organizations, not news. They sell their eyes to advertisers.

Will that business model work? If it doesn't, nothing else will. So they're giving it a shot.

As for blogs, the successful ones ratings-wise are counterweights to the awful soap opera narrative diet of the MSM. I don't know that they can make any money either, even with that.

On hard news, they'd do no better than the MSM would have, readerwise.

There is a pleasure in writing, however; to find the right words for something, and just put them out there.

I think you need a day job as well, though.

(You'd probably do better writing for a commercial lefty blog. I have no idea what they pay though.)