In the past week, Hearst Newspapers, The New York Times Co. and the Washington Times have all announced plans to harvest the reporting of non-professional volunteers. Hearst is partnering with Helium, an online freelance-writers' network; the New York Times is launching a string of local news sites with contributions from area residents; and the Washington Times will tap members of the military to cover the bases where they live.
There's a healthy dose of irony here, especially when it comes to Hearst, which also said last week that it plans to start charging for much of the content on its newspapers' websites. In essence, Hearst is saying to readers: Please start paying us for our content, and, while you're add it, please supply the content.
Also see: Jai Ho to America's newspaper of record