Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Citizen journalism welcome but must be edited, says Scripps publisher

Competitor Daily News reports that Memphis' E.W. Scripps-owned 168-year-old newspaper, the Commercial Appeal, has made "recent moves that severely cut the reporting staff, eliminated classified ads from the already thin Monday and Tuesday print editions and an admission that the [Appeal] probably won’t be covering less urgent topics in the future."

Appeal editor Chris Peck responds, “If we run out of people . . . , then we’re going to turn to freelancers and more community-generated content.”

Yet publisher Joseph Pepe, who insists the Appeal is profitable, seems to have rather strong views of that sort of content.

“All blogging is citizen journalism,” he told The Memphis News. “In a lot of cases it’s unsubstantiated. It’s not objective. It’s not edited content. It leans more toward opinion and subjectivity. Anytime we have citizen journalism, it’s still going to get edited. It’s still going to get verified. It’s going to get checked for facts before we post it. We apply the same rules to citizen-sponsored journalism as we do to our top line reporter.”

So does Otis L. Sanford, the Appeal's deputy managing editor.

Sanford said citizen journalism “has its place” and has been discussed since the early 1990s. It shows up in the pages he governs in the form of opinion pieces and letters to the editor. Non-newspaper employees also serve on the [Appeal's] editorial board.

“Now, I am a traditional, old-fashioned journalist,” Sanford said. “And I believe that while citizen journalism has its place, I’m not one – and maybe this is an old-fashioned view – but I’m not one to think that citizen journalism can ever take the place of the traditional journalism that I know and love. I just don’t believe that.”

Full story here.

Also read: A sustainable model emerges: Use collective intelligence but fact-check with journalists
And: Can selling news via the Web save newspapers?
And: Mainstream media sites increasingly welcome citizen participation

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