Friday, January 30, 2009

"Amateur content far more valuable if edited by professional journalists"

It is increasingly trendy for citizen sites to hire a professional journalist (or two or three) to edit members' contributions. Does that seem a bit futile for citizen journalism?

Not to Julien Pain, founder-editor of the Observers, the cit-journalism site owned by France's international television network France24. Pain explains that his site "takes advantage of the best aspects of a blog, but maintains professional direction." An excerpt from a report by Emma Heald of the World Editors Forum:
What differentiates the Observers from other similar citizen journalism projects linked to traditional media outlets, such as CNN's iReport, is that although much content is produced by amateurs, everything is professionally checked and edited. Fact checking is a time consuming process, Pain explained, but crucial to maintain the validity of the site. "Amateur content is far more valuable if edited by professional journalists," he believes, as when faced with the vast amount of citizen produced content available on the web, it is difficult to know what is reliable. The Observers is confident that is can be a trusted source, and the confirmation process often involves checking facts with more than one contact. Pain also explained that he would feel very uncomfortable about associating unverified information with The Observers' parent brand, France24.

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