Where do the twain meet?

“Citizen Journalism Networks Stepping Up Editorial Standards,” states DigiDave in his recent post. Just as he does I try to avoid the “professionals good – amateurs wrong” (or vice versa, which is far more frequent) debate about journalism, since I think it mostly exaggerates and misses the point. My view is that these two branches have certain elements common and actually need each other. And both need to reform. That is what NowPublic, AllVoices, Orato and Ground Report among others are up to at the moment, revising their original editorial policies and strengthening them, trying not to stifle the stream of “citizen” journalists.

What I found when analysing the new editorial policies is that they are going much the same way our own project (prepared for CTK) aimed when we worked on it recently. Material from totally unknown and new sources is bound to go through more thorough and lengthy process of checking and vetting. Reliability, not speed is the catchword here.

Known and trusted sources still get vetting (any CTK story, even one written by the Editor himself would get it), but less extensive.

Ground Report allows volunteer editors (trusted contributors) to edit anything on the site. I do not think we will allow that as we are going to mix our own output with that of the external contributors and still feel that the reader should be able to know which is which (even though I acknowledge there is an issue there – if the vetting and creative process is essentially the same, why not this part of it).One more argument is the idea of making more of a dialogue, not just one sided story telling (whether it is from the “professionals” or the “amateurs”.

What I believe is innovative in our concept on the other side is the idea to let readers “mark” different authors and thus help each other with vetting and keeping the editorial standards. This would make their work more visible, easier to find.

All this, I believe, is an unavoidable trend. Contributors prefer defined editorial policies and guidelines. So do the media and the users.