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citizen journalism

Dispatch From Italy: Citizen Journalism and YouReporter Making Waves

imageDid you know that in Italy, to be a practicing journalist, you take exams and get certified? That’s what my Roman friend, a senior digital editor at one of the country’s largest publishing groups told me over lunch this week during my Italian holiday. It’s like being a lawyer, or an architect. And while the practice of certifying journos still stands, even over here where traditions are hard to break, the industry has been disrupted.

Italy is still a country in which practicing independent journalism is a political, and not just entrepreneurial, act. And still, YouReporter.it, a crowd sourced, video sharing news platform is widely used. Launched in 2008, the site has expanded with an app for both Android and iOS, and a text based news blog. Lots of “mainstream” news publishing organizations use videos or photos from the site, and all they have to do is use the logo and attribute the view to YouReporter.

When co-founder Angelo Cimarosti and his colleagues, Luca Bauccio and Stefano De Nicolo, started thinking about the site in 2006, bandwidth in Italy was weak, and hard to find. Smartphones had yet to saturate the market. So they started with a focus on photos, in addition to video. In fact, Cimarosti told me over the phone that when the earthquake in l’Aquilia hit in 2008, hundreds of photos were uploaded to the site; had it been just video based, YouReporter would have never gotten off the ground.

“You can start small,” Cimarosti told me over the phone. (All translations are mine)

“The success of YouReporter is about the small things, especially in a country like Italy, made up of small towns. People already have an outlet for the big news events — an earthquake, a cruise ship crash, even a big snow storm. What YouReporter users share and want to know about are the small things — suspended trash pick-up, the traffic sign on the corner that needs to be replaced.” Read more

BBC.com and Quora Partner Up For New Column

BBC.com LogoBBC.com and Quora announced a partnership this week. It’s called the Quora Column, and BBC.com contributors will write columns based on popular discussions on the Q&A site.

They launched a trial column this summer on the travel pages, where it’s been a success. Other news sites also feature Quora columns — such as Slate. Unlike Slate, however, the BBC.com version won’t just be reprinted popular answers. David Allen, managing editor of BBC.com’s features section told me over email that Quora will be used for fodder and answers:

We work with Quora to help seed questions in key topic areas for a subject that we’re looking to cover and they’ll also help us identify key contributors and topics that have already been covered and fit within the subject we’re interested in. Both Quora and BBC.com are rooted in knowledge – each reader/user base has a lot of crossover. We’re not just reprinting popular answers.

I have never really known what to make of Quora, and seem to stumble upon it more often as I persuse and search the web. The partnership is interesting — it’s great to know what readers are already thinking about and expanding upon it. And it’s a great way to leverage user generated content. BBC.com is also working with Quora to “seed out” key contributors and topics to cover. The column launched on the BBC.com Auto pages and BBC.com’s Capital vertical. What do you think about Quora columns? Do you ask or answer questions on the site?

The ‘Circus’ of Fashion Journalism and Niche Media

Whether or not you live in New York City, you are bound to be bombarded with fashion on some homepage this week, as #NYFW kicks off a month-long season of shows.

Like in general news publishing, the niche, elite world of fashion journalism has undergone some serious changes in the digital landscape. And it’s anxiety ridden. This past spring, Garage Magazine produced a short, 10 minute, video called “Take My Picture” anchored by the notorious fashion journo Tim Blanks. The piece examines the rise of the fashion blogger and “street style” photographers. It’s the same anxiety news hounds have about citizen journalists, but the elitism is ten fold. It’s fashion, after all.

Even the New York Times noted this week that the state of the fashion industry — which relies on fashion media as much as fabric — is reaching circus levels. Industry standards like Women’s Wear Daily, Harper’s Bazaar, W, and of course, Vogue are still kings of fashion content, but ‘good’ fashion blogs — the Andrew Sullivans, if you will — of fashion media, like Natalie Joos’ Tales of Endearment and Man Repeller are just as important sources for fashion news and features. But again, the idea of ‘good’ journalism is problematic.

Media commenter Jay Rosen wrote this month in CJR that journalism is defined by ‘awayness,’ as in “I was there, you weren’t, let me tell you about it.” In that sense, the Tumblr-fication of fashion media and street style is a good thing. The more the merrier. But it’s an interesting problem. In “Take My Picture,” Blanks seems to suggest that arming civilians with cameras and free blogging sites is bad for culture, in general. It cheapens the niche. It’s the same worry the general news publishing world has about Twitter and listicles.

I wonder what sports writers would feel about the locker rooms being opened up to just anyone? Or what political writers would say if the White House press briefings were open town halls that any blogger could walk into? 

 

Image via Mashable

ifussss: New Video Sharing App and Newsroom for Journos

If you see something, share something. That’s the motto and logic behind a new video sharing app called ifussss. Say it with me now: EYE- FUSS. 

While Twitter and Facebook already have us all gathering images and looping videos, ifuss is targeted to news organizations. Co-founder Edward Brooks explains:

Right now, it’s a ton of effort. Users are looking for good content, they’re interested in things happening in their area. If you know a story’s already broke, you can go to Facebook or YouTube, but even if you find the content, you don’t know if you can use it, if it’s been used before — the whole process in the middle is difficult. 

The concept is the same as, say, Instagram. You see traffic on a bridge, for example. You shoot and upload it to the ifussss network. It’s automatically geo, time, and hash tagged. News editors can search and monitor the ifussss newsroom platform and, this is where it gets interesting, buy the content. 

They still haven’t worked out the kinks on pricing, but it’s going to be a “very low cost” price, says Brooks. ifussss collects that revenue and pays a percentage to the citizen journalists who took the video in the first place. 

Brooks mentions that a contact of his in a local New York City newsroom says they had five or six people combing through user-generated video after Hurricane Sandy. 

It would make that process much easier. We’re not asking you to change that behavior, but now the archive is there, it’s verified content, and ready to use. 

There’s been much discussion around Twitter’s Vine and Instagram video, but both of the behometh’s continue to tell us that they aren’t a media company. ifussss could fill in that gap. The big question is: will newsrooms pay for user generated video content? Brooks thinks they should. 

“It’s about video with value,” he says. “It’s not just about breaking news. I saw a Lisa Liu filming in Washington Sqaure Park the other day… It’s of no value right now, but when that movie comes out or wins awards, the footage could be of value later. It’s in the archives, tagged, and ready to be used.”
The app is set to release in the store in late August, but they are offering limited pre-release access to the app if you sign up now. I’m curious to know what you all think of the concept, so let me know in the comments or on Twitter.

 

Border or Bust: Investigative Journalists Get Serious With New Media

Social media isn’t just for tweeting fillibusters or tracking fugitives — some outlets use new media as their main reporting strategy and to brand their beats.

This story about journalists reporting on the Mexican drug war shows that social media provides not just a great outlet for curating reports but also a shield from the threats that surround breaking news on dangerous people. Instead of going down the rabbit hole of bloggers versus ‘journalist,’ I find it rather inspiring. In the wake of all of the news surrounding sources, leaks, and the reporters that handle them, it’s been a rather good season for serious, investigative reporting.

Other outlets, like the Center for Investigative Reporting have launched new media campaigns that beg for awarenes concerning issues on the border. They also beg to be shared; Jonah Perretti would be proud. They’ve taken some very serious data and turned it into something that borders on silly — like this video that shows what the amount of marijuana seized on the border looks like and a series that plays on the “Real Actors Read Yelp Reviews” – ”Real Actors Real Yelp Reviews of U.S Border Checkpoints.

It’s takes the phrase “Funny or Die” to a whole new level, considering the severity of life on the border. Apart from their intended purpose, it’s also a good example of the thin line between journalism and marketing. Once you’re entertained, there’s also this interactive map if you want to get serious with the data.

Is there something about the Mexican border beat that breeds ingenuity? Have you seen any other great ways that journalists are using new media?

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