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Gillmor On Why His Citizen Media Project Faltered

This post on Dan Gillmor’s Bayosphere blog about why his citizen media project never took off as he had hoped it would. He has been a big advocate of citizen journalism, so read the piece, especially for its honesty.

He writes in part:

I learned some things last year, about media, about citizens, about myself. Although citizen media, broadly defined, was taking the world by storm, the experiment with Bayosphere didn’t turn out the way I had hoped. Many fewer citizens participated, they were less interested in collaborating with one another, and the response to our initiatives was underwhelming. I would do things differently if I was starting over.

Among his list of lessons learned:

Citizen journalists need and deserve active collaboration and assistance. They want some direction and a framework, including a clear understanding of what the site’s purpose is and what tasks are required. (I didn’t do nearly a good enough job in this area.)

Tools matter, but they’re no substitute for community building. (This is a special skill that I’m only beginning to understand even now.)

Though not so much a lesson — we were very clear on this going in — it bears repeating that a business model can’t say, “You do all the work and we’ll take all the money, thank you very much.” There must be clear incentives for participation, and genuine incentives require resources.

Thanks to Romenesko for the pointer.

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