Managing the Army of Temporary Journalists

Outing, Steve
March 2005
Nieman Reports;Spring2005, Vol. 59 Issue 1, p79
This article describes the manner in which citizen reporters complement mainstream news organizations as observed in the coverage of the tsunami that hit South and Southeast Asia in December 2004. The news media landscape is changing. Journalists share the spotlight. Citizen reporters equipped with modern technologies cover a story in ways the mainstream journalists do not. Using camera cell phones and digital cameras, eyewitnesses can easily send their photographs to news outlets or friends, who then pass them along to others who might published them on the Web or in blogs. Unconventional journalism is being published by those who were not journalists before the event happened and probably will not be once these stories have been told. The audience for all this citizen journalism has the difficult task of trying to decide if what they read or see is accurate. The news industry should follow the lead of pioneers like BBC News Online which routinely solicits reader photographs, stories and commentary about major news events. There is also a need to incorporate citizen reporting and photography into the main online news product so that Web readers can choose whether to look to the work of journalists or to amateur reporters and eyewitnesses.


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