Real Journalists and Citizen Journalists Collaborate

In other news, and there was other news, a few TV stations have found a new way to make peace with citizen journalists, by incorporating them into the news building process, developing a collaborative, rather than an us-vs-them culture.  WITI in Milwaukee, for instance,  has a daily story meeting which is now open to the public through live blogging and video streaming as well as a web program that allows users to contribute ideas.  Generally, 50 to 60 viewers participate in this process daily, and one or two stories make it “to the whiteboard”. Says WITI’s News Director, “We get more texture, more substance and more context because we have more eyes and ears” with the collaborative process. Broadcasting & Cable has the story.  

In another instance of collaboration, the Seattle Times used Google’s experimental Wave to cover a story.  Four police officers were murdered in Lakeland WA, and  there was a subsequent manhunt for the killer. Using the Wave helped the paper stay in touch in real time with its readers, but also allowed content to pour in.  The paper had previously been using Twitter, but  use of the Wave, which allows for real-time collaborative project management  through the cloud, permitted users to read and update a map, get links to police scanner audio, live video, information about road closures, school lockdowns, suspect information, etc. As the paper said in a story about its use of Google Wave to cover the hunt for the suspect: “For us it became a live document that allowed folks on the Web interested in the story to take part in helping to move it forward. It was social media, reporting and online journalism at the next level. Or at least a crack at it.”

While there weren’t a lot of comments  in the article  the few that are there represent a cross section of the plusses and minuses of citizen journalism.  They range from “I thought it was a brilliant idea” to ‘sounds like a good way to organize vigilante justice”.  While I don’t think that anyone would advocate news by mob, this is a first step on the way to figuring out how to make the inevitable incursion of the public into the story a workable option.


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