26 June 2008

Citizen Journalism Should Provide Immediacy

Citizen Journalism is rapidly taking hold of media consumers, and it’s no wonder why. It provides an immediacy that newsgroups just can’t match.

Take the fellow who was arrested in Egypt while doing his senior project. Armed with nothing more than his cell phone, he Twittered one word: “arrested.” Within an hour, his followers had secured legal counsel.

Then there were the quakes in China. Stories of this natural disaster flew across the internet at least an hour before any newsgroup could even get to the scene.

Citizen Journalism is more dynamic, more on it, than any other form of reporting available. Sure, it can result in misinformation and subsequent misunderstandings. But when you empower people to report, not to wait for an “expert” to scoop the story, the information flows like wine.

Although this isn’t the only quality of Citizen Journalism, it certainly is a keystone. It’s about “power to the people” and all that. However, stories must be published in a timely fashion in order to rank as newsworthy. If some time has passed, if the excitement and agitation has waned, the story must have a uniquely human-interest approach in order to qualify as substantive.

Here’s a word for anyone publishing CJ content:
Unless you can break the story immediately, always opt for the unique or human-interest angle. Otherwise, you risk sounding like a follower instead of a leader.

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