It’s something that has been talked about a lot lately, and many executives are starting to think about implementing it into their organization, if they haven’t already done so, but what is it? And is it going to be something that is actually beneficial to news organizations or is it simply a trend within journalism that will eventually fizzle out?
While many are confused about citizen journalism, there is also a vast amount of enthusiasm about the idea and how it can benefit organizations. Citizen journalism is actually a very complex idea that can be applied in many different ways through different outlets at different organizations. The first step that your organization can take in moving towards incorporating citizen journalism into them is by opening themselves up to public comment. This means that you allow for user comments which will create several different reactions from users. Comments are typically used to argue with something that has been written that they do not agree with, but can also add significant information that the reporter may not have known, making the original story even better.
The question that you have to ask your organization is what content should be open to reader comments? Blogs do typically have reader comments, but as an organization why not get more creative with integrating the outside audience with what you have to say, and get their feedback. For instance, you can add the option for readers to comment on calendar listings as well as exciting news about the company. This will allow the readers to have a voice within the organization, likely making them feel more connected to the organization.
Another way that organizations can integrate citizen journalism into what they are doing is by having a citizen add-on reporter. This typically means doing a little more work and research than simply adding a “user comments” link to your website. Using citizen add-on reporters allows victims or witnesses to the crime or event has a voice in the article. This is not something that you will necessarily want to use for every article, but is appropriate at some times.
These are just a few ways in which citizen journalism is becoming relevant within organizations. Though this is a great way to get outside feedback and sources, it is something that you have to monitor closely and use wisdom on where to draw the line. But beware- allowing an unprecedented amount of citizen journalists can cause confusion and a loss of control within your organization.