MonthMarch 2015

Collaboration– not ‘scoops’ — is the key to survival in the new media


For years, journalistic culture revered closely held, shoe-leather reporting that drove excellence through a heightened sense of competitiveness. News organizations measured success not in their ability to drive revenues (because that was a given) but in their ability to beat the other guy. Break exclusives. Win awards.

The prevalent thinking was that the people benefited when news outlets competed. It was a time when cooperation with other news organizations was viewed with suspicion and scorn.

Then came the Internet and with it massive disruption in the business models that supported American journalism and which precipitated the greatest gross loss of journalists ever experienced in the profession.

Today, we are more likely to get a news story from an app or website without regard for who wrote it and how it gets paid for. And why not? We appear to have far more news sources today than ever before. Convenience and usability are far bigger deciding factors in where er get our news than trust in the reporter or organization that delivered it.

In response, traditional news organizations have cut back on their dedicated reporting staff and relied more heavily on cheaper, commoditized news from fewer and fewer sources. As a result, the content is less differentiated, less specific to the community that is being served and, therefore, less useful and important. It is a vicious cycle and a sad story that has appeared way too many times on the pages of this publication and others like it.

There is another, viable and increasingly effective way: collaboration.

Citizen journalism from Russia … with love

From News Times:

Greenwich native Charles Bausman has been living in Moscow for the better part of 29 years, raising a family while working as an investor in agribusiness in Russia. In the past dozen years or so, he’s developed a perspective on Russia he said he does not see reflected in western news reporting.

So six months ago, he created an alternative news website called that is getting millions of international viewers — and Russian attention as well.

“This is citizen journalism,” said Bausman. “It’s like an online movement, user generated, democratic. People are very devoted to the site. It’s gone beyond what I could imagine.”

NYC building collapse tests new Twitter livestreaming app

Via Bloomberg:

Twitter’s new video streaming app, Periscope, launched on Thursday morning. By the afternoon it was facing its first real test as a medium for citizen journalism.

Just after 3 p.m., a large explosion shook a building on Second Avenue in Manhattan. By the end of the day two buildings had collapsed, at least 19 people were injured, and at least one was missing. People who signed on to Periscope out of curiosity about Silicon Valley’s latest craze in self-documentation were given an intimate look at the confusing scene on the ground in the immediate aftermath of the explosion. Multiple users began streaming video from the streets, nearby buildings, and other vantage points.

Just like every previous golden age of citizen journalism, the may-be-upon-us age of Periscope journalism is beset by faulty and incomplete information, inane commentary, and technical setbacks. The first feed I saw of the fire said it was being filmed in the Bronx. The second one correctly identified the neighborhood but gave the wrong address for the building where the explosion took place. The visuals consisted of a man on the street asking other bystanders what was going on. A voice off-camera started screaming: “Everybody needs to pray!” Then the feed cut out.

I found another feed from a building that looked to be at least a mile away. Like most of the videos on Periscope, it seems, the narration was about the app itself. The reporters, as it were, lacked the gravitas that even the basest local news network knows how to fake. “I have my own channel!” shrieked the narrator, a woman who was presumably holding the phone doing the streaming.

“What’s that?” asked someone else.

“Periscope. Someone said I’m the new CNN! Just kidding, I don’t know how to work this thing.”

Citizen Journalism program and site launch in Massachusetts

From Cambridge Community Television:

Cambridge [Mass.] residents want more local news and Cambridge Community Television is giving it to them in a fresh, bold way with a makeover of, its citizen journalism web site.

Launched in 2007, NeighborMedia is a program of CCTV that trains Cambridge residents to become reporterscovering the people, places, issues and events of their very own neighborhoods., the URL containing these multimedia stories, had been housed on CCTV’s own site, Now, in an effort to give NeighborMedia a distinct identity, a newsier feel and a stronger community presence, CCTV is spinning off into its own web site with a design and interface that is all its own. The brand new officially launched this week.

What is a citizen journalist?

Basically, a citizen journalist is anyone who blogs, tweets, Facebooks, podcasts, YouTubes, emails or newsletters about newsworthy events and issues outside the auspices of a corporate employer or sponsor.

Corporate media organizations will sometimes have their employees blog on their corporate Websites. This is called “j-blogging.” It’s not citizen journalism. They are still employed by the soulless corporate entity. They can be fired at any time by the soulless corporate entity. They still take direction from the soulless corporate entity.

If the soulless corporate entity has decided to control the news in certain ways, the j-blogger MUST comply.

This is why blogging rules. It’s just one guy deciding to let it all hang out. If one particular blogger doesn’t report, another blogger will. Or another. Or another.

Freedom rocks. People Powered Media rocks.

Seven tips on how to edit copy without copy editors

This is some good dvice on how to write sparkling posts without a bunch of silly typos and grammar errors. The emphasis is on finding mistakes, NOT on following style. I approve.

Give me meta, or give me death

I love the meta of blogs.

I want to know how the post was written. I want to know if the post was written while the author was sitting in his kitchen on a rainy day or while she was sipping green tea at Starbucks.

If the writer getting paid for the article. Hey, that’s OK, I just wanna know.  Is the writer writing about the topic because he has real interest, or are sources whispering in his ear? I just wanna know.

Is the writer just writing about this topic because he’s interested in the subject, or is he writing about it because he’s notices he gets a lot more Google hits when this subject is mentioned. I want to know.

What is the interaction between the subject and the author? What’s the personal history between the subject and author?

In a traditional mainstream media environment, the reporter is encouraged or even trained to filter out all the meta information like this. ‘Be objective,’ they are told.

But the citizen journalists is more subjective. The leave the “meta” in. They let the reader in on their feelings, their perceptions, and they clue the reader in on the details that in forma them about the situation.

It’s more honest.

Mainstream journalists take out the “I.”  Citizen journalists put the “I” back in.