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Thursday, July 28, 2005

Citizen "news junkies" become editors

You may be familiar with the concept of the the 'citizen media editor,' a newsroom position dedicated to sifting through participatory journalists' contributions described by Mark Glaser of Online Journalism Review back in March (previous posting). Take the 'media' out of the job title and what do you get? Citizen Editor! That's right, those feisty readers are at it again, rocking the foundations of what has always been your stable, however stressful, job as an editor.

Don't panic just yet. These readers still depend on your paper's news to do their editing... but they smoosh it together with a bunch of other sources meaning that your articles could get lost in the information fray. In the spirit of GoogleNews or other such online aggregators, the recently launched CommonTimes, which explains itself as 'a social bookmarking community for news readers,' solicits "news junkies" to post links to the articles they are reading on its homepage. This essentially makes any contributor an editor of the site as he/she decides what's newsworthy. The site looks suspiciously bloggish, but it is nicely divided into the various categories you find in any standard newspaper, each with its own RSS feed, countered by a chaotic gaggle of tags (key words with a list of related articles), in the far right column. One large problem noticeable right off of the bat: each headline (there are about 7 per category on the homepage) does not list the source nor the time which can be particularly problematic for those who are deciding what to click on, and especially for the sources themselves who are trying to maintain a strong brand name.

All in all, I wouldn't be worrying about your job as newspaper editor. But, as CommonTimes gains recognition and more contributors, it could prove to be a very eclectic and interesting mix of news. English speakers (if successful, the site could theoretically branch out into other languages) all over the world could contribute articles from their local journals that most would never hear of, releasing online news aggregators from the selective shackles of a computer and handing the power back to people. Such a variety of news is a wonderful educational tool and great means of opening the door to a more transparent world. But what about large news organizations? How will they deal with increasing competition from all over the world?

Source: Poynter, Hybernaut.com

Posted by john burke on July 28, 2005 at 04:45 PM | Permalink


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Thanks for the write up. We're in the process of adding source information to the cover page. Many are there now.

Posted by: Jeff Reifman at Jul 30, 2005 1:06:16 AM