Image: Ursula Skjonnemand in the CitizenJ Community Newsroom. Credit: Alban Vinevel.
It’s been ten weeks since the CitizenJ website launched.
64 contributors are now signed up, 17 of whom have contributed a total of 53 stories.
News and community are the two most popular categories (22 and 19 stories respectively), followed by human interest (12) and arts and culture (11). Interestingly, politics is way down in sixth position with seven stories.
Our interim survey shows that people have become involved for a variety of reasons including: skills development, to gain legitimacy as a citizen journalist, networking with each other and connections to the mainstream media.
55% feel their needs and expectations have been met so far, 30% say their needs and expectations have been somewhat met and 15% say their needs and expectations have not yet been met.
Our biggest challenge in meeting those needs lies in better connections to the mainstream media. We need to push the work of contributors with media organisations and build brand You.
Our resources are being well used but the survey shows we need to do more to make sure people are aware that we offer: workshops, equipment, a community newsroom, Walkley Media Talks, online resources (The Contributor Toolbox) and one-on-one support.
Contributors would like to see: improvements in the experience of online workshops, more examples during workshops, more interactivity on the website, some more advanced workshops for experienced bloggers and journalists, more encouragement to finish a story (or to get started on an idea).
We have heard you and these improvements and more are underway.
One of the biggest challenges I have personally discovered is getting stories published quickly. News happens around the clock, but our team works 9-5.
Contributors often work 9-5 too so it can be tricky getting in touch with each other within a reasonable time frame. It often takes two-three days for a submitted story to be published.
We want to reduce that time. The question is how.
More proactive training is part of the solution. We also need to consider how much the editorial team should be ‘improving’ a story through the feedback process and when it’s time to let the raw and distinct voice of the citizen journalist free in favour of a more authentic forum.
The balance, I have found, is actually quite a difficult one. CitizenJ aims to distinguish itself from other forums and outlets for citizen journalism through offering a high level of credibility. This is an important feature and our survey has shown contributors want it.
The credibility we gain through quality, professional practice and ethics is key to republication opportunities and the growth of our audience. But as we are learning, this has to be tempered with the authenticity of citizen journalism.
I’ll be the first to admit we haven’t found the balance yet.
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