How NOT To Do Citizen Journalism
Posted by Talknowledgy
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There are many great examples of how citizen journalism can work to allow media companies to cover more events while allowing regular citizens to feel like they’re a part of the news cycle. Sites like OpenFile, CTV’s MYNEWS, and CNN’s iReport are well organized, well thought out approaches that are respectful to both the journalist and their target audience while allowing a media company to uphold their brand promise and deliver news coverage.
Below is a screenshot I took earlier this week. This is how not to do it.
Coming from a news background, I can tell you that this type of reaction (IE “Leave the family alone!”, “Do we really need to hear about this story?”) on stories of this nature is common, even when a journalist is the one reporting on a fatal crash or similar event. But taking that type of story and then asking members of the general public to fill gaps in your reporting and, worse of all, asking them to do your ‘dirty work’ does nothing to further the cause of citizen journalism or engaging the community in your news coverage. Instead, it comes off as lazy, exploitative, and (in the example above) tasteless even if that was not the original intent.
Why did I black out the media organization’s name? Well, I think any news organization can be guilty of this type of behaviour. Picture your favourite news source. Can you think of a post they’ve made like this? Maybe they framed it differently. But at the end of the day it’s the same.
It remains to be seen if the company will do this again. However, at time of writing the above post is still on the Facebook page and there’s no apology. That’s bad form. My concern, if I were their social media community manager, would be people posting on every story on the Facebook page saying “Gee, TV Station X, do you want a photo of this too?”. An apology and the removal of the post would clear that up. While the poster would have to admit they were wrong to ask for this type of photo, in the long term it would restore some of that good will and demonstrate to citizen journalists and the Ottawa community that this company does not wish to merely engage the community when they need something, and in particular when they have a tough job to do. Instead of an apology, the poster tried to defend their request.
This is not meant to be a critique of any one person’s social media skills. I think it can be a learning experience for all involved. Remembering not just what your message is but also what your message means or implies is critical to these types of request.
What do you think? What constitutes an acceptable request for a story contribution from a news organization? How should they frame it to avoid this type of reaction? Your comments are welcome below!
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Posted on 09/10/2012, in Opinion, Talknowledgy News and tagged 24 Hrs, Blog, CBC News, Community Engagement, CTV News, EMC, Facebook, iReport, Journalism, Metro, MYNEWS, News, News Talk Radio 580 CFRA, OpenFile, Ottawa, Ottawa Citizen, Ottawa Sun, Phil Gaudreau, Photo, Social Media, Sun TV, Talknowledgy, Technology, Trolling, Twitter. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a Comment.