One reason newspaper circulation is plummeting is because people feel a real disconnect between real life and what they see printed in their daily newspapers.
Complaints of biased and inaccurate reporting, too much emphasis on crime (when in fact crime rates are decreasing) and too little good news are encouraging people to take news-gathering into their own hands.
Enter Amy Gahran, a citizen activist in Boulder, Colorado, who is recruiting a team of volunteers to help “cover” a controversial housing development that her local newspaper, the Daily Camera, hasn’t yet covered. They will post their stories on the Daily Camera’s website as part of the newspaper’s new citizen journalism initiative known as My Town.
Other newspapers throughout the U.S. are involved with projects like this one. Citizen journalism, known as citJ, for short, includes news, features, analysis and commentary produced and published by people, including bloggers, who don’t work for newspapers. They’re simply involved citizens who want to report news in their own words and offer opinions.
If something like this had happened back where I come from—in the newsrooms of the 70s and 80s, we editors—with our bachelor’s and sometimes even master’s degrees in journalistm—would have scoffed at the very idea. But as an article in the Christian Science Monitor has quoted Gahran as saying, “The skills involved in creating journalism are underappreciated, but they aren’t particularly rocket science.”
She and partner A. Adam Glenn, who recently left his Senior Producer position at ABC News.com, are teaming up to educate the “citizen journalists” and help the news organizations that seem to have few other options than to try to work with them. Gahran explains more about the project in this item at her own blog.
Their website is called I, Reporter, and will include a blog, a training program for citizen journalists and news organizations, workshops, educational materials and e-learning.
This is a fascinating twist in the ever-changing media landscape. This grizzled, former newspaper editor wishes them the very best.