18 October 2007

UClan Forum Debates Citizen Journalism

The key to user-generated content is to harness the passions and motivations of a wide group of people, according to New York University professor Jay Rosen.

Rosen was speaking at this week’s Journalism Leaders Forum staged by the University of Central Lancashire, which saw industry experts and editors from the UK and around the world discuss the problems and potential of so-called citizen journalism.

The digital news pioneer asserted that in his experience user-generated content should not be concerned about turning people into “mini-journalists”, but about sharing the workload among a large number of contributors in order to enhance quality and verifiability.

He urged newspaper editors in the UK to carry out low-cost experiments to encourage wider participation and see how users and readers respond, rather than wait for “proven solutions from elsewhere”.

Rosen, who joined the live webcast debate online from his New York base, neatly summed up the challenge of the multimedia age when he suggested that journalists currently face a “digital sea”, which they must successfully navigate by deciding what they need and do not need to take with them on their voyage.

Also debating these issues were award-winning editor Darren Thwaites from Teesside's Evening Gazette, and Trinity Mirror regional editorial director Neil Benson, who revealed the company is to embark on a crowd-sourcing project at the Liverpool Daily Post.

He stated that the pilot scheme – Make the News – will comprise six different stories aimed at various audience groupings and is intended to enable reporters to become comfortable deploying user-generated content.

Interestingly, Benson suggested that journalists need to behave more like radio producers in the future with an understanding of how content can come from sources as well as themselves.

The session was recorded and can be viewed by following this link, while further details on the Journalism Leaders Forum can be found on its blog.

Meanwhile, more information on Neil Benson's project announcement at the forum can be read on Journalism.co.uk.

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