Friday, January 25

Full community press

The Jan/Feb issue of Mother Jones has a pretty great article by Adam Weinstein on Gannett and its push for "citizen journalism." The story touches on some of the changes (including seven confirmed layoffs) we've seen at the Coloradoan in recent months and a few of the aspects of why the Coloradoan might be making a power play for the Collegian.

As newspapers' circulation numbers and ad revenues free-fall, their executives have decided that publications must go "hyper-local" and online, and they've enlisted the help of amateurs...the newspaper industry's embrace of "citizen journalism" has a downside. Reader-submitted content rarely gets vetted by editors.... The [Gannett-owned Tallahassee] Democrat published a story by a retirement home's development director about the complex's great new golf course—without disclosing her job—and a woman wrote an article about a boy who'd organized a cancer charity event without noting that she's his mom. This may sound like small-time stuff, but it exemplifies the self-defeating side effects of newspapers' new strategy for survival.

Call it the second phase of the Usa Today-ification of the press; after all, the media empire that gave us the McPaper is now setting newspapers' online agenda.

I also ended up thinking about the media brouhaha at the State Capitol, where old-school journalists are trying to band together against new-media types and bloggers, some of whom have been accused of being glorified party operatives. Clearly, as media is going digital, there is a fine line between journalism and advocacy, and so much comes down to disclosure.

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