Building sustainable and findable objective journalism online

Simple software has enabled the publishing of independent, local journalism cheaply online. The change has local and global implications, and allows those in niches to break geographic, economic and political boundaries. An explosion of grants and experiments is occurring in the United States and often reaching across borders, but it’s unclear what kind of filters society will create in order to cut through the online clutter. At the same time, some independent news sources are running into the same funding issues that traditional newspapers face.
It’s shakeout time in old and new media.
Traditional journalists, new citizen journalists and just plain citizens are wondering about journalism jobs, the ability to sustain the creation of news on a volunteer basis, and the credibility and value of what they read. Even those who surf online for amusing celebrity news want to go deeper at times, when issues affect them personally.
Who will they be able to trust to filter out the noise and find information of value? How will quality, independent, objective international reporting be funded in the future? Will advertising dollars only follow the pop culture “news,” or will nonprofit organizations shore up quality work and find a way to disseminate quality information broadly?
I’ve spent 25 years in newspapers, as a manager, designer, copy editor, systems designer and content editor. My micro-neighborhood blog, started in June 2006, has drawn an average of about 40 visits a month until now, where it’s spiked for reasons unrelated to content at 145 visits so far this month. With that background, I bring a unique perspective and strong interest in the future of online journalism.
Keywords: filtering, “citizen journalism,” objective, blogging, online, editing, sustainable, “trusted intermediaries”
Web sites I’ll explore:
Center for Citizen Media
Address: http://citmedia.org/
Description: This is the site for an initiative aimed at encouraging grassroots media, and is affiliated with the University of California, Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism and the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University Law School. Dan Gillmor, an author and frequent blogger, has his blog at this site.
Online Journalism Review
Address: http://www.ojr.org
This site is supported by the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California. It has commentary, links, how-to guides and discussion boards about online journalism.
J-Lab
Address: http://www.j-lab.org
This is the site for The Institute for Interactive Journalism at the University of Maryland. It’s an incubator for news experiments and takes an active role in using new technology to educate new and old journalists on skills needed for online journalism.
The Knight News Challenge
Address: http://www.newschallenge.org/main_e.html
This is the site for those who are interested in making grant proposals for money from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The News Challenge will award as much as $5 million for digital experiments to transform community news. Those seeking grants can publicly submit their ideas and get online feedback from visitors at the site, and visitors can examine grant proposals to find inspiration.
Global Voices Online
Address:http://globalvoicesonline.org
This site is a non-profit global citizens’ media project founded at Harvard Law School’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society. The international site is being translated into at least six other languages and has contributors and paid editors in many parts of the world. Site managers also have an agreement with Reuters to share information.

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One response to “Building sustainable and findable objective journalism online

  1. j-lab’s a good one. i spent some time with that site last semester. they’re not a frequent updater, i’ve found. or, at least when their rss updates it updates in big batches.

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