Most aspiring citizen journalists I meet have a favorite topic that interests
them and they want to write almost exclusively about that subject. For
instance, a good friend of mine writes solely about hunting and fishing in
Iowa and Nebraska. Another submits articles to his local newspaper about the
activities of his Rotary Club. Another citizen journalist I know submits
articles about green issues and the climate change debate.
All newsrooms at one time structured things that way; they would assign
reporters a certain beat to cover. One would write on business issues,
another sports, another lifestyle issues, another local politics, etc. More
recently, with budget cuts and the changing business model for newspapers,
journalists have been forced to become generalists rather than specialists.
One publishing company in Colorado owns several community weekly newspapers ... (more)
There is more than one way to interview someone for a news story.
Some journalists take the role of an unfriendly, disbelieving inquirer who
wants to catch the interviewee in some moment of confusion or expose him/her
as a hypocrite, ignoramus or buffoon. I refer to this as “gotcha”
Some journalists take the role of a supportive, affable colleague so they
don’t ask any tough questions that might embarrass the interviewee. This
often called throwing softballs, but I call it “brownnose” journalism.
The really good journalists take the role of an objective, neutral
Five Kinds of News Stories for Citizen Journalists
“I want to be a reporter, but I don’t know what to write about!” was
the comment from a young lady in an audience I spoke to recently. Her dilemma
prompted me to start work on my next book tentatively titled, “1001 News
Story Ideas for Citizen Journalists.”
Though the project has only begun, I do have a preliminary outline for the
book. I got the outline from a 1978 magazine article by Paul Swensson
reprinted in an old book* I picked up at a used bookstore recently. Swensson
was a former newspaperman, journalism professor and new... (more)
A recent edition of Editor and Publisher, the oldest journal covering the
newspaper industry, reported on a study by the University of Missouri School
of Journalism that found that the number of citizen journalists is
insufficient to meet the needs of shrinking newsrooms. Here is the lead
paragraph of the story:
Citizen journalism isn’t stepping up sufficiently to fill the
“information shortfall” caused by cutbacks in the newsrooms of newspapers
and other traditional news organizations, a University of Missouri School of
Journalism study finds.
To read the whole story – CLICK H... (more)
The history of citizen journalism is actually the history of journalism
itself. Do a little research and you find that citizen journalism pre-dates
professional journalism by about 200 years.
The first newspaper in the American colonies was published in 1690 and over
the next 200 years, printers and newsmen opened hundreds of newspapers with
varying degrees of success. During those two centuries, none of the news
writers were professional journalists because the profession hadn't been
created. The journalists of the day were just citizens who felt passionate
about something, own... (more)