A lot like health systems, journalism has, over the last few years, had to change and adapt to meet the changing demands of audiences: the internet has become the primary source of news, rather than newspapers and TV; audiences want their news now, live, as it happens; and news organisations who previously supported expensive investigative reporting, have had to slash budgets, so journalists are less able to follow stories for a long time. This means that for many media outlets, the detailed personal element of a story is being missed; which is a loss for audiences as it’s this personal, emphatic connection with a story that helps us to comprehend the impacts of events.
In addition to this, the rise of social media has led to audiences wanting greater interaction with their news. Usually this takes the forms of comments on a story. Traditionally, the audience are witnesses or by standers to events, interacting only after a story has been told. But what if we could co-create the news we are consuming, and actually be a part of the news-gathering process?
In this interesting podcast, Madalina Ciobanu of Journalism News talks to Jennifer Brandel, founder of WBEZ Chicago Curious City, Matt Danzico of BBC Pop Up, and Rob Edwards, founder of The Ferret – all of whom have introduced an element of crowd-sourcing to their news gathering and reporting.
These journalists, reporters and film makers have all developed ways in which the audience can be involved in every step of news gathering, bringing fresh ideas into the pipeline and opening up news gathering to diverse ideas and opinions, so that they can better represent the community they are serving and informing. Crowd-sourced, people-powered stories can direct journalists to questions that they may have not asked on their own, which can add context to local issues and allow the audience to have a greater connection with the story. These stories are a place for shared-understanding.
This is co-creation of news: the journalists provide the editorial judgement over what stories to cover, curate the stories being told, collect the information and write the news; but they are also the conduit through which the community can ask its own questions and share its own stories.
As an experienced journalist, I don’t think crowd-sourcing should be the only source of stories: often the role of journalists is to bring stories and issues to light, which the audience may not have been aware of; but I do believe that there is a role for people-powered news, and if we want to better connect with events, add context and understand their impact, then we need more engagement, and this can be done through co-creation. Via co-creation, we can ensure that limited news resources are investigating the issues that we the community want to know more about.
So, taking this into consideration, what questions would you like to ask? What topics would you like to be further investigated? Do you have a story that you want to share?
Commentary by Jen Clemo