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Ron Ross

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Top Stories by Ron Ross

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)

Are You a Pugnacious or Assertive Journalist?

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” journalism. 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 inte... (more)

Five Kinds of News Stories for Citizen Journalists

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)

Not Enough Citizen Journalists?

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)

A Short History of Citizen Journalism

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)