Had a chance to listen to a Community Coordinator from The Guardian last Friday. Her talk was about how dedicated the company is to the ‘open journalism’ cause and how social media fit in the overall scheme of it.
She started her talk by playing the Three Little Pigs advert, which I had already been singing its praises here on this blog and other places. Then, while explaining how members of the public contribute by providing firsthand accounts of an event or an extra context, she said: “Of course that itself isn’t journalism.”
Someone from the industry saying so felt like a breath of fresh air. Then I was wondering on the train back home why I found this remark particularly impressive. In the digital media environment we are in, there is this big, ongoing discussion about ‘journalism in crisis‘: people do not trust traditional news authority, people increasingly beat journalists to information, people do not pay for news any more, et cetera, et cetera. Against this backdrop, I think it was the professional confidence projected that I was impressed with. It was almost like saying: “Yes, we welcome you into our organisation and take part in our work as much as you’d like. We will still have something that you will need us for.”
Now one thing I will continue to watch out and hope they will develop a good model for is about how to credit and compensate such reader-contributors in a sensible way.
And since we are on the topic, we can’t wrap up without watching the following clip, I reckon.