Falling in Streams

April 3, 2008

Citizen mediaImage from WikipediaI’ve got three thought streams that are about to flow into each other. Gotta get ’em out in the open before I get flooded.

Tom and I were talking about News Gatherers and News Producers and how they are two fundamentally different jobs. News Gatherers should have the freedom to go out into the community, write as many in-depth stories as they like, reflect, dig, and update their stories. News Producers should take the output of News Gatherers and package it for each distribution method and audience a LoMediaCo wants to reach.

And then I saw a summary of the 2008 State of the News Media from The Project for Excellence in Journalism. One of the key points is that each headline should have it’s own homepage. This allows for the proper depth of reporting big stories need, and can connect readers to outside resources that augment the story (tweets, blog posts, other news sites, youtube vids). It would allow LoMediaCo’s a safe way to use the full power of the web. I think this follows from the idea that aggregators win on the web. The twist is that instead of the National Aggregation that Google does, it would be Local to National Aggregation. Assuming that people would like to start with some local flavor, see what the neighbors think, and then temper it with some national scope.

On top of all this, I’ve been noodling on Citizen Media sites like NowPublic. It covers a lot of news stories, but the problem is that all writers are not created equal. When I have a choice, I’m always gonna go read an article written by someone with a unique voice and peppy writing style who had some time to reflect. No amount of news quantity will ever assuage the human need for story quality. However, a large quantity of news data coupled with a good amount of story quality seems like the ideal mix.

Here’s the point of these three thought streams.  LoMediaCo’s should:

  1. Let News Gatherers run wild writing quality stories of direct relevance to their audiences. Let them get into the Why of things. Let their outputs be articles, blogs, video, podcast, and pics….whatever is good for the story.
  2. Help citizens gather and post relevant news data (like little league scores, neighborhood initiatives, community stats, comments, photos). 1% of citizens are great writers, but 90% know how to gather data and comment. Help the 1-percenters set up their own blogs to give them a voice.
  3. Post everything from Citizens and News Gatherers into an open Wiki-type space where each story has its own home page. Let it be raw and deep.
  4. Charge News Producers with packaging all the info into relevant sizes for every single distribution method. Splice it with outside content from other sources on the web. Distribute just headlines for the Twitter crowd….Basic quick-read stories for commuters…..In-depth stories for movers and shakers. And bring everyone back to the web for a deep archive that connects everything to something else.

Now I would be engaged by that. And I bet it wouldn’t be too hard to make money off engaged consumers.

What would it take to actually do something like this? Have I ideologically fallen and can’t get up?

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