Saturday, July 14, 2007

Read/WriteWeb examines citizen journalism

One of my favorite blogs for in-depth analysis about all things Web 2.0, Read/WriteWeb is running a series on citizen journalism.

R/WW has an excellent explanation for how citizen journalism differs from traditional news reporting, "The readers are the writers and editors, unlike traditional journalism which is written/edited by the 'few' (professional journalists) for the 'many' (consumers)," and plans to look at two types of sites: startups designed as citizen journalism sites from the ground up, and sites founded by large media organizations like CNN and Reuters.

The first post looks at Newsvine, a site that's been around for about a year and a half. I remember checking it out when it launched and being impressed with the idea, but not so much the results. It didn't look that different from the CNN home page in terms of what stories were covered. The only differences were the order those stories were put in.

Newsvine and similar sites aim to encourage citizen journalism in two ways:
  1. By letting users submit and comment on articles from other news sources
  2. By submitting original reporting
The problem is that it's much easier to post links to other people's content than to create original work, even if Newsvine does share advertising revenue with writers. So the site started out as a sort of Digg for general news.

A year later, the site still seems to be dominated by news from mainstream news organizations like the Associated Press and the New York Times. But original content is mixed in. For example, today's "most active stories" include an op-ed on media bias and a piece about why Friday the 13th is considered unlucky. Not exactly edge-of-your-seat stuff, but it's nice to see it mixed in there.

The net result is that Newsvine comes across as kind of a main stream news site with lots of polls, a constantly changing front page, and a large op-ed/reader comments section.

Is this the future of news? I doubt it. But it certainly shows some promise. And the site is apparently showing decent quarter to quarter growth.

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