Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Citizen Media Goes Mainstream...Aw, Nuts!

With the advent of blogging, the age-old term "Town Crier" took on new meaning. But believe it or not, the news media can't leave well enough alone. Rather than accept the trend of ordinary citizens sharing news and information without permission from the gatekeepers of public opinion, traditional media outlets have launched their own citizen's media initiatives. In a March 22 article in Online Journalism Review, writer Mark Glaser cites a new editorial position emerging in the news room, that of "citizen media editor."

...a role that's only now coming into focus at various sites such as MSNBC.com, VenturaCountyStar.com, NorthwestVoice.com and News-Record.com.
-- Online Journalism Review
What better way for the ONN (Old News Network) to once again govern its realm? Invite folks to share their stories in a bigger way, a way that overwhelms any online promotional efforts the average blogger can afford. What an enticement!

Why Buy the Cow When the Milk Is Free?
What's wrong with this picture? No one knows for sure, because editorial processes are still in their infancy. But we can all guess how this will probably play out. The news outlet lays claim to any intellectual property posted on its site, so forget about reprinting what you think is yours. The news outlet decides whether this content is worth archiving, so forget about being able to point to it years from now. The news outlet doesn't pay the blogger, but keeps all the associated revenue from Web site advertising and/or archive sales. The news outlet has final say on what is published and what isn't, often at the expense of your freedom of speech. And so on, and so on, and so on.

Not that we all wouldn't mind getting visibility among the journalism elite, but at what price? Excited about the possibility of becoming a citizen journalist for your local newspaper? If you do decide this can work for you, try not to be a media whore. Read the fine print. Be realistic about what you can and hope to accomplish. Then decide if controlling your own editorial destiny far outweighs the 15 minutes of fame you'll get by giving it away to an entity that clearly doesn't deserve it.

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3 comments:

Lex said...

[[But we can all guess how this will probably play out. The news outlet lays claim to any intellectual property posted on its site, so forget about reprinting what you think is yours.]]

I can't speak for any other site, but News-Record.com does NOT lay claim to submissions from readers. They retain all other publishing rights.

[[The news outlet decides whether this content is worth archiving, so forget about being able to point to it years from now.]]

Our intent is to leave reader submissions online in perpetuity with what I hope will be a permanent URL.

[[The news outlet doesn't pay the blogger, but keeps all the associated revenue from Web site advertising and/or archive sales.]]

For now no one's getting paid, but we're not realizing any additional revenue from this, either. Longer-term, we're exploring our options using the so-called "long-tail" revenue model.

[[The news outlet has final say on what is published and what isn't, often at the expense of your freedom of speech]]

We edit for considerations of libel and grammar/spelling/punctuation. It's still the submitter's content in the submitter's voice, even if the writing isn't as elegant or clear as it could be. The only thing we're rejecting on content grounds is advertising or anything that looks like it might be a scam. No one's freedom of speech is being abridged.

We also offer hosting on a Web site that draws more than a million hits a month and spends thousands every month to advertise/promote itself. Moreover, thanks to articles like that on OJR, we're getting a ton of free publicity right now that will redound to the benefit of people who submit articles for publication.

Yes, it's possible that some places could exploit citizen journalists, but the N&R is trying very hard not to be one of them.

-- Lex Alexander, citizen-journalism coordinator
www.news-record.com

Steve Yelvington said...

What is this nonsense about "the news site lays claim to any intellectual property posted on its site?" Please substantiate, or retract. Every user agreement I've seen -- and certainly every one I've written -- grants to the site operator the right to republish the contribution. That is NOT a claim of ownership. Looks to me like you're twisting facts to push an agenda, Kim.

davidpauken said...

I have to agree with steve yelvington on this.

you simply take a one sided approach, and don't look at the increased exposure recieved by the blogger. Traditional news outlets are simply protecting the rights to use the material, promtionally or editorially.

In a society so happy to sue anyone that looks at them crosseyed, I'd hope you would understand the idea of clearly defining ownership of these types of submissions for the sole purpose of protecting from suit.

The next time you'd like to spout off at the mouth, do a little bit of research.

news organizations don't want to own you, they simply offer an outlet for otherwise unexposed writers.