Citizen Journalism: What is Working and What Isn’t

Jay Rosen looks at en experimental online newspaper, and talks about what works and what doesn’t:

“A web-to-print, highly-interactive, low barrier to entry, read-write, everyone-contributes newspaper is still a daily production headache. Articles, photos, headlines, and ads have to come together. Unedited, the site would have almost no value, although it can have unedited parts with high value.”

Looking for a balance between traditional journalism and the power of community involvement online, he concludes:

“The conversation feeds journalism, journalism feeds the conversation” is a powerful idea, but we are several steps away from knowing how it works to create a live, intelligent filter in the newsroom.”

The rest of the interview with Jay is very interesting, covering quite a number of hot-button issues around citizen journalism.

To me, it seems as though citizen journalists are moving toward more traditional journalism, and large media companies move towards two-way conversations.

The Washington Post has just added a comment section to all of their article pages after a problem the first time around. (link via Steve Rubel)

Some predict that this trend toward online media will continue:

“CNN founder Ted Turner said Monday that it was “all over” for newspapers, and predicted that they would soon be a thing of the past…”

I think the concept of ‘trust’ will be a huge determining factor as media evolves. NME, the British music magazine, is making a new play online. When asked about competition such as MySpace, they respond:

“The key difference between us and MySpace is that we have got a voice and an authority that we use to drive our content and build up our content. MySpace is primarily a community without an editorial voice.”

On the flip side, social networks are evolving as well:

“…the current state of thousands of ‘walled garden’ social networks can’t continue – we need meta social networks to connect up niche SNS. According to the poll we ran at the end of the post, 69% of you agree.”

Then again, don’t things tend to follow the money? In-Stat reports:

“over the next several years user-generated content (UGC) will boost Website revenue, mainly from advertising. The research firm estimates the volume of views and downloads at these sites will surpass 65 billion by 2010, and at the same time revenues will exceed $850 million.”

Marketers are quickly learning to leverage the web in more efficient ways. Scott Brinker at Advertising Age has an interesting article comparing two different conversion methods: “search mode” and “pitch mode”…

“Pitch mode,” in contrast, funnels those who respond to an ad down an intentionally narrow path. The marketer is in the driver’s seat, crafting a presentation the user sees one screen at a time, usually in a linear sequence. The choices are limited at each step and identify the most relevant needs and characteristics of the respondent so that subsequent pages in the pitch can be tailored accordingly. Everything drives to a conversion event, typically to acquire the respondent’s contact information.”

And really, isn’t that what it’s all about? (*smirk*)