Citizen journalism isn’t stepping up sufficiently to fill the “information shortfall” caused by cutbacks in the newsrooms of newspapers and other traditional news organizations, a University of Missouri School of Journalism study finds. “While many of the blogs and citizen journalism sites have done very interesting and positive things, they are not even close to providing the level of coverage that even financially stressed news organizations do today,” said Margaret Duffy, associate professor at the Mizzou j-school. “Not only do these blogs and websites lack the staff to adequately cover stories, but most citizen journalism managers do not have the financial resources and business experience to make their websites viable over time.” The Missouri study looked at the top 60 citizen journalism Websites and blogs, and identified several factors including how much linking each website included, how much public participation they allowed or invited, how frequently news and content were updated, and whether the citizen websites provided contact information for the public.
YouTube announced Monday that it is testing a new feature called the YouTube News Feed, which it is working on with the University of California at Berkley’s Graduate School of Journalism. The feature would track news as it breaks on YouTube. YouTube says the news feed will provide a stream of breaking news videos on YouTube, with a focus on strong visuals, non-traditional sources, and the latest uploads. The feed will reside on CitizenTube, YouTube’s news/politics video blog. Updates will also be posted to the CitizenTube Twitter account
The user-funded news site Spot.Us this week launched a ‘community-centered advertising’ feature that allows users to answer questions posed by a sponsor in exchange for credit to use on the site, reported Poynter’s Bill Mitchell. Spot.Us invites readers and journalists to propose stories and readers are asked to donate to those which they view as worthwhile, once a price has been set. It publishes an average of a story each week, according to founder David Cohn in February. Now, readers are also asked whether they would like to earn credits. The current ‘survey sponsor’ is Mortgage Revolution, a mortgage company which gave Spot.Us USD 5000 as a charitable donation, Cohn explained to Mitchell. Cohn decided to let readers decide which stories this could go towards, so is offering USD 5 credit to any reader who answers Mortgage Revolution’s short survey on the site. Cohn made it clear to Mitchell that this system is currently an experiment, and he is not sure whether it will prove popular with users and whether other advertisers will want to get on board.
The entrepreneur who created a virtual marketplace that connects sellers and buyers worldwide is launching an online news site where people will pay to exchange ideas and discuss issues affecting their communities. Pierre Omidyar, the founder and chairman of eBay Inc., is entering the news business with a new online service in Hawaii. By charging a USD 19.99-a-month membership, Omidyar hopes to accomplish what newspapers and other media organizations nationwide have long struggled with — having readers pay for content and making local news profitable. Civilbeat.com is expected to go live Wednesday with the official launch scheduled for May 4. It promises to provide in-depth reporting and analysis, and be a civic plaza for island residents. “Reporter-hosts” will post articles, interact with readers, provide frequent updates and host discussions. Omidyar decided more than two years ago to launch a news service to cover local civic affairs, including the state, city, education, land and money. The site will feature a “topic page” for each issue. On the page, readers can find links to stories, history and background information. The other unique aspect will be the discussion section. Unlike traditional newspaper online comment sections that are often marred by hateful, obscene, racist or mindless commentary posted by anonymous readers, Civil Beat members will be identified and no anonymous comments will be allowed
Faded Internet star AOL is reinventing itself as a digital age news operation with an army of freelance writers wielding online tools. Fresh from being spun off by Time Warner in December, AOL launched Seed.com to groom freelance writing talent to crank out stories for its array of websites on topics ranging from pets and sports to politics and technology. “AOL is repositioning itself as a news and information company,” Seed programming director Saul Hansell said Tuesday as he demonstrated the website at the annual South By South West (SXSW) gathering of technophiles. AOL editors post assignment descriptions on an online Seed bulletin board. Pay for writing jobs ranges from five dollars to 300 dollars per article. Writers then submit their versions of a story along with headlines and pictures. AOL editors sift through queues of submissions deciding whether to accept, reject or kick stories back for improvement. Authors names are displayed on stories at AOL Web properties without “asterisks saying ‘look at the cute little citizen journalists,'” Hansell said. Freelancers that have proven themselves may be given personal assignments and invited to pitch story ideas. Seed is in a testing phase and is expected to evolve with feedback
Over the next two weeks, the BBC will work closely with non-profit blogging network Global Voices Online. BBC news will engage with blogging posts from the network, while Global Voices’s managing editor, Solana Larsen, will get involved in news production in the BBC’s newsroom. Global Voices is a community of more than 200 bloggers which aims to bring translation and reports from the developing countries. It was founded in 2005 at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University. Before its partnership with the BBC, it had already collaborated with news groups Reuters and CNN. BBC news decided on a collaboration with Global Voices as part of the BBC’s SuperPower feature exploring the special power of the internet, presented by Aleks Krotoski. To take more advantage of that special power, the director of BBC global news, Peter Horrocks, urged BBC news journalists in a recent speech to take social media as an additional source of news more seriously
After a three year hiatus, Yahoo News is once again opening up to news commenters. The site, which has been the top source of online news in the US for several years now, has quietly added a standard commenting feature to all of its articles, which allows visitors to post their opinions, respond to specific views left by others, and vote comments up or down. Most of its big (and smaller) rivals already feature similar systems. Yahoo News had previously allowed its users to comment on news articles via message boards. But the company shut those down in late 2006 in part because of the poor quality of discussion. This time around, Yahoo has added filtering technologies to its comment streams, in order to ensure that higher quality comments are highlighted