Gannett getting involved in Citizen Journalism

Gannett CEO Craig Dubow announces the Information Center concept will be used in some of their newspapers operations. Some reports say this will not include USA Today.

The Information Center, frankly, is the newsroom of the future. It will fulfill today’s needs for a more flexible, broader-based approach to the information gathering process. And it will be platform agnostic: News and information will be delivered to the right media – be it newspapers, online, mobile, video or ones not yet invented – at the right time. Our customers will decide which they prefer.

How is this new you might ask? Its really big media publicly acknowledging that community participation in media making is important. They did a bunch of pilots and come up with the following.

What they found is remarkable: Breaking news on the Web and updating for the newspaper draws more people to both those media. Asking the community for help, gets it – and delivers the newspaper into the heart of community conversations once again. Rich and deep databases with local, local information gathered efficiently are central to the whole process. The changes impact all media, and the public has approved. Results include stronger newspapers, more popular Web sites and more opportunities to attract the customers advertisers want.

To many of us involved in making our own media, aka citizen journalism, blogging, podcasting, etc, this doesn’t come as a surprise. Heck North Carolina newspapers like the Greensboro News and Record have understood the importance of local participation in making the news for a while.

This is important because of the money. If a big group is going to involve citizen journalist in the process of making their media then others may too. Investment changes minds. Look at Google’s purchase of YouTube. The very next day I was showing YouTube to people who had never really used it. All because the big investment had made the headlines. It communicated its importance to the mainstream.

Now the fun part. Will traditional journalist play nice with citizen journalist? My main concern is how will media companies fairly compensate citizen journalists. I’m not necessarily talking about money. Some bloggers happily donate their work. Even to for profit efforts.. This is how sites like work. Give folks a good tool and people will use it. Its part of being civiclly involved. But if companies don’t respect users (bloggers, citizen journalists) then their partnerships will fail.

How do media companies (ex. Newspapers) create good partnerships with citizen journalists and community members?

  • LISTEN. Ask them what they want then give it too them.
  • Be a honest, fair, and equal partner.
  • Work hard to change a culture of superiority among some journalist. We love you but you aren’t the only people who can break news to the planet now. xoxoxo
  • Your audience is no longer passive. They are active participants in making the news. They are colleagues. Treat them as such.
  • Help your new partners learn about journalistic ethics and the values of hard work you hold dear.
  • Don’t see citizen journalists as the enemy. They can save your profession.
  • Change is good. Embrace change. Do it often.
  • Citizen Journalists and media makers insert your need here.

Hat tip to Paul Jones for the news about Gannett.

More links: 5 Rules of the New Labor Pool, The Rise of Croudsourcing, The Memo from Craig Dubow, FAQ Page 1, FAQ Page 2, FAQ Page 3, FAQ Page 4 and Glossary

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