ONE OF KILKENNY'S weekly papers goes to print on the weekends and that's a big change for local news reporters. A bigger change would be if those well-read newspapers took a page from Gannett and start sourcing more news from active citizens, instead of depending on the news originating in the news room. Let the public report on matters affecting the public. In many places, the public contributes photos, editorial opinion and press releases anyway.
Gannett, the publisher of USA Today as well as 90 other daily newspapers across the States, will begin crowdsourcing many of its news-gathering functions because breaking news on the Web and updating for the newspaper draws more people to both those media. Bloggers would confirm that by explaining people want their news to be more than factual reporting of events. They want details for calendars, recommendations for cinema, lifestyle topics and stories gathered around the parish pump. Plus, all 21st century news sites embrace community interactivity.
Jeff Howe explains that "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.'
In Ireland, this kind of initiative fits local papers better than national broadsheets because the locals want to get the parish news onto kitchen tables. I wouldn't bet on stodgy local staffs embracing this concept, however. You have to be a GAA PRO or a local politician to easily get your copy into print. But if the local papers went down this route, they could monetise the process easily through traffic from web readers. Most readers want to be watchdogs and whistle blowers. They need taller platforms than their own little blogs.
All Irish papers are going to feel a big crunch within a year as the property market comes off the boil and paid display advertising drops like a wounded parachute. Easy estate agency copy will shrivel and when it does, it means fewer pages in print. If the locals shifted their cost base to outsourced news reporting and more web page content, the loss of real estate advertising revenue would be less dramatic.
The Gannett 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.
- Use crowdsourcing methods to put readers to work as watchdogs, whistle-blowers and researchers in large, investigative features.
Jeff Howe -- "Gannett to Crowdsource the News"
Crowdsourcing is the new investigative journalism.
Douglas Fisher -- "Gannett blows up the newsroom"
Amy Gahan -- "Good for daily journalism?"
Jeff Jarvis -- "The dark cloud inside the silver lining of the dark cloud"