Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Is this the giant killer?

I've been remiss in my handling of this blog lately. I still have been posting daily stuff but not here. As you may know, I am a retired photojournalist and have some strong feelings about the direction that our news media is heading. For the past few days I have been immersing myself in some citizen journalism.

The site is Digital Journal and it purports to be a place for citizen journalists to post news and even get paid for it. The truth, and I am sure the people running the site realize this, is that this site is providing a framework for professional journalists to work outside the confines of media owned newspapers, etc. (Even their reporters who have never worked for a paper, or other media outlet, show a degree of competence that says professional.)

Why would a journalist want to do this? Well, maybe the big paper contracted in size and the cutback cut the journalist's job. There are a lot of trained, talented people out there who, if they knew about Digital Journal, might be keen to file stories, real news stories, to this Internet site.

I have made three postings. (And I was not responsible for the art accompanying the story. I believe these are wild turkeys!) All my stories were inspired by the mainstream media (MSM) but I backwards engineered my pieces by going to the press releases or reports or whatever that the original stories relied on and worked up my stories from there. My stories and the MSM stories look very similar but because we shared common sources and not because I simply ripped them off.

I was chatting with a fellow who worked for Canada's major papers. He was telling me that when they went online it was so complicated at first that the best brains in the newsroom spent more than an hour attempting to post the day's news, and failed.

I'm sure it is easier now but a person I chatted with at another paper told me just recently that it took the better part of half an hour to post a story. This is nuts. Who writes their software?

I can post a story on Digital Journal with a simple click. I can spell check before filing with a couple of clicks. I can return and edit a posted story with a simple click. The Digital Journal is slick. Where this Internet media experiment will lead, is anyone's guess.

But my gut feeling is that we are seeing the birth of a new way of providing us with our news. It is not the gonzo free-for-all method of pure citizen journalism; it is more like a cooperative effort of independent, capitalistic, professional journalists working free of the restraints of the present media giants.

Is Digital Journal supplying the framework that could prove to be the giant killer?

Remember, for neat pictures taken in the London area check out Rockin' On: London Daily Photo.

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