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How to Improve Quality of Citizen Journalism

Steve Outing at Editor & Publisher says a lot of the citizen journalism material is simply dull. Then he gives suggestions to editors on how to improve the quality of citizen journalism.

Here are some highlights of an article worth reading:

“If you don’t have a well-developed strategy to populate the site with content of interest to people, you will end up with a site full of junk,” says Rich Gordon, an associate professor of journalism at Northwestern University and the faculty advisor behind the school’s GoSkokie.com, citJ Web site. “Hard as it is to get people to visit a citizen journalism site for the first time, you don’t want them to come and decide it’s not worth coming back.”

Nearly everyone I interviewed for this article emphasized that getting people to submit content to citJ sites requires lots of outreach and marketing. There’s no such thing as “build it and they will come.”

Amy Gahran, who co-writes a blog about citizen journalism called IReporter.org …thinks that being willing to highlight the best citJ contributions prominently — and not treating it as a less valuable or valid form of news — can go a long way in increasing the quality of citizen content.

“To get the best content,” says (Chris) Willis, We Media co-author, “I do believe people will have to be compensated. News companies had a chance to get a lot of participation for free, but as blog networks begin to get bought up by the likes of AOL, the New York Times or News Corp., a value for influential online voices is being set. That’s a genie that won’t be going back into the bottle anytime soon.”

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