THE face of journalism is continually evolving and the increased role of citizen journalists is one indicator of this. While websites like No Fibs provide a voice for citizen journalists they are still regarded as lacking the authority and accuracy which mainstream media journalists and publications are thought to possess. Recently, I have been a part of a group of students from the University of Queensland who are looking to create a tool to help assist citizen journalists.
We also want to find out from citizen journalists whether they would use a tool like this.
No Fibs contributor and arts editor Michael Burge (@burgewords) offered his insight into the state of citizen journalism and identified several issues which impact citizen journalists including a ‘vulnerability to litigation’, access to media events and the image of citizen journalists in the eye of the public. Burge believes citizen journalists face the issue of not “being taken seriously by readers and audiences who often think a citizen journalist is ‘lesser than’ because they are not a ‘proper’ journalist.”
The tool we are creating – ComeCreate – looks to solve these issues with a particular focus on improving reliability and credibility, which Burge believes are ‘major issues for citizen journalists’. ComeCreate will be a web-based application which will offer users the opportunity to source stories, share content and link to source material for greater reliability.
The application will also support greater interaction between the reader and the citizen journalist by providing readers with the ability to submit and suggest content and stories. After considering what our tool offers, Burge identified this ability for interaction between citizen journalists and readers as having the potential to break new ground alongside interaction platforms which are emerging.
When asked what he believed would be valuable in a tool to assist citizen journalists, Burge said that “support and guidance on effective ways to sub-edit citizen journalists work, anything which under the mainstream media used to be called ‘editorial production’ would be an invaluable tool for the ‘average’ citizen journalist right now.”
ComeCreate plans to offer this by allowing users to draft their stories with others by asking for suggestions in terms of their written content, photographs and other material as well as headlines.
While ComeCreate is still is the design phase, to make it a valuable tool for citizen journalists it needs support and input from citizen journalists and readers. One of the biggest factors when designing a tool such as this is making sure that it is something that is genuinely needed by citizen journalists and incorporates the features which citizen journalists require and would actually use.
As a part of this process we are asking for your thoughts and feedback on how you as a reader would like to interact with citizen journalists. We also want to find out from citizen journalists whether they would use a tool like this and what features they would use or like to see incorporated. Share your thoughts in the comment section or join in the #ComeCreate conversation on Twitter.