Monday, November 06, 2006

USA Today publisher to bring citizen journalism into mainstream?

[Keyword: , , , ]. Wired News reports on moves by Gannett, the publisher of USA Today as well as 90 other American daily newspapers, to begin
"crowdsourcing many of its newsgathering functions. Starting Friday, Gannett newsrooms were rechristened "information centers," and instead of being organized into separate metro, state or sports departments, staff will now work within one of seven desks with names like "data," "digital" and "community conversation."

"The initiative emphasizes four goals: Prioritize local news over national news; publish more user-generated content; become 24-7 news operations, in which the newspapers do less and the websites do much more; and finally, use crowdsourcing methods to put readers to work as watchdogs, whistle-blowers and researchers in large, investigative features.
A fascinating example comes at the tail of page one of the piece:
"In May, readers from the nearby community of Cape Coral began calling the paper, complaining about the high prices -- as much as $28,000 in some cases -- being charged to connect newly constructed homes to water and sewer lines.

"Maness asked the News-Press to employ a new method of looking into the complaints. "Rather than start a long investigation and come out months later in the paper with our findings we asked our readers to help us find out why the cost was so exorbitant," said Kate Marymont, the News-Press' editor in chief.

"The response overwhelmed the paper, which has a circulation of about 100,000. "We weren't prepared for the volume, and we had to throw a lot more firepower just to handle the phone calls and e-mails," Marymont said.

"Readers spontaneously organized their own investigations: Retired engineers analyzed blueprints, accountants pored over balance sheets, and an inside whistle-blower leaked documents showing evidence of bid-rigging.

""We had people from all over the world helping us," said Marymont. For six weeks the News-Press generated more traffic to its website than "ever before, excepting hurricanes." In the end, the city cut the utility fees by more than 30 percent, one official resigned, and the fees have become the driving issue in an upcoming city council special election."

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good post on the future of media. Where would we be without the internet?
I just noticed that the Media Watch blog is gone. ( Any idea what happened? It was a very opinionated page and seemed to have the inside scoop on the mismanagement at UAE media. From Labor headaches to editorial biases it covered everything. I miss it already.

November 07, 2006 1:08 am  

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