Citizen journalism


Pro photographers remind lucky amateurs: Viral pictures have value

As soon as he took the picture, Janis Krums knew he had something. What he didn’t know is how much of a something he really had.

If Krums’ name sounds familiar, it’s because he took one of the most famous viral pictures of all time — the first image of the U.S. Airways jet that landed in the icy Hudson River on Jan. 15, 2009, with all passengers surviving.

Krums, who was on a ferry at the time, uploaded the photo to TweetDeck and tweeted out the link. Within 34 minutes he was being interviewed live on MSNBC.


Throughout the day he was inundated with requests to use his instafamous photo, Krums told me by phone: “Basically everyone” was trying to get the rights to the photo, including the Associated Press. Read more


New Guardian, Scoopshot efforts bring elements of automation to photo verification

User-generated content is rife with risk and opportunity.

The opportunity for it to deliver remarkable images is made clear on an almost-daily basis, be it in the midst of a crisis like the Boston Marathon bombings, Hurricane Sandy, or simply someone snapping a notable shot at a local event.

The risk is that images are easily faked, scraped and manipulated.

News organizations and others seeking to source images and information from the crowd therefore have no choice but to push forward with new methods of verification — and to make existing methods quicker and more accurate. So it’s no surprise that we’re seeing initial moves towards automating aspects of the verification process.

The Guardian and Scoopshot both recently unveiled new initiatives to bring an element of automation to verification. Read more


Boston explosions a reminder of how breaking news reporting is changing

Terrible events such as yesterday’s bombings at the Boston Marathon have always meant “all hands on deck” for news organizations, with staffers pulled off their regular beats to contribute.

But the endpoint of the newsgathering and reporting is no longer a front-page package of stories explaining — the best one can — what happened, why it happened and what might be next. Now, there is no endpoint — events are reported in real time, with stories in constant motion, and the front page is a snapshot of an organization’s reporting at the moment when the presses needed to roll.

Boston was a reminder of that, and a look at what’s changing in real-time journalism. Through Twitter and various live blogs, I found myself looking over my shoulder at the Boston Globe, the New York Times, Reuters and other news organizations, and was able to make some observations and draw some conclusions. Read more


Knight News Challenge funds photography app with built-in verification data

A mobile app that will help amateur journalists send photos to news organizations securely and with embedded verification data is among eight projects funded by the latest Knight News Challenge grants.

“Clearly the spread of citizen-generated, amateur-driven content is here to stay. But we still have not developed the mechanisms and tools for understanding that content, verifying that content, feeling comfortable about using that content,” Knight Foundation Director of Journalism and Media Innovation John Bracken told me.

The Knight-funded solution is an Android app called InformaCam — to be built by mobile security specialists at The Guardian Project and human rights advocates at Witness. Read more


Survey: Public prefers news from professional journalists

Reynolds Journalism Institute
The public’s trust in the institution of the press may be fading, and digital platforms have opened the publishing world to anyone with a desire to speak, but it seems professional journalists themselves are not seen as obsolete.

More than 60 percent of U.S. adults say they “prefer news stories produced by professional journalists,” and more than 70 percent agree that “professional journalists play an important role in our society,” according to new survey data from the Reynolds Journalism Institute.

Respondents also disagreed with a social-media-centric model (that most news should come through trusted friends) and disagreed that it doesn’t matter who produces the news.

The first two bars in each chart below refer to mobile device users and non-users. More on them later. Read more


Is Reddit the future of news or the present?

Salon | Salon | TechPresident | Marshall Kirkpatrick
Apparently, the future of news is not conferences about the future of news. The future of news is debates about Reddit.

The flashpoint for this round was Michael Barthel’s take on Mathew Ingram’s piece about how people on Reddit covered the Colorado theater shootings. Citizen journalism such as what Redditors practiced, Barthel writes, is remarkably similar to the traditional type:

A large number of people are all working on a breaking story at the same time, seeing what information others have as it comes out (monitoring the Twitter feeds of other news orgs is like reading through a Reddit thread), and using their own resources to find out new information, eventually coming collectively to some sort of coherent picture.

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Knight News Challenge funds 6 projects focused on networks

The Knight News Challenge is giving more than $1.375 million to six projects that use networks in different ways to solve journalism problems.

Two of the winners announced Monday address issues on opposite ends of the journalism process:

  • The Tor Project will work on tools to help people in dangerous and politically repressive parts of the world publish and communicate safely with sources.
  • will enable news sites to track which stories and topics are gaining traction on their websites and their competitors’.

Monday’s announcement marks the completion of the first News Challenge contest since it shifted from an annual contest to three times a year.

Under the old system, nine to 10 months passed between the time that a project was submitted and Knight cut a check. Read more


Missourian editor says integration of citizen journalism is working

Columbia Missourian
Joy Mayer, director of community outreach for the Missourian, says a student’s first-person account of storm-chasing is a testament to the Missourian’s decision to integrate user-generated content into the main news site. Until February, such material was published on a separate site, MyMissourian; it’s now in a section called “From Readers.” Mayer put Dustin Mazzio’s story on the home page:

As an editor, I was thrilled to have it. Dustin offered a window into something most people don’t get to (or aren’t crazy enough to!) experience. Sounds like journalism to me. …

Bringing the stories under the big umbrella of Missourian content, rather than segregating them on their own site, gives the newsroom the option to display them more prominently. The stories can appear alongside those from the newsroom’s staff.

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Why the Tulsa World published graphic front-page image of shooting suspect

Tulsa World/View

The Tulsa World published a front-page photograph Thursday of a shooting suspect lying face-down and bleeding following a shooting at the Tulsa County Court House. The image was captured by John Fancher, an employee of Tulsa City-County Library, who happened to have his camera with him at work and shot gripping photos of suspect Andrew Joseph Dennehy through the library’s window.

“The decision to publish a photo that some may view as offensive or graphic was not taken lightly,” Tulsa World Photo Editor Christopher Smith writes on the paper’s photography blog. “While the situation is unfortunate, no matter how you look at it, the gravity of the situation would be difficult to communicate without the images.”

The World paid the library to publish the images, Web Editor Jason Collington confirmed via email. Read more


Early citizen journalism site MyMissourian shuts down

Columbia Missourian
One of the earliest citizen journalism sites announced today that it will be shutting down. University of Missouri journalism professor Clyde Bentley, who founded MyMissourian, wrote:

“I will shed only tears of joy when our internationally-known citizen journalism site “graduates” this week. is a unique part of the journalism world to which the Missouri School of Journalism gave birth, but that the people of Columbia reared. But after seven years, it is time to close the site. Instead, the stories, recipes, photos and memories that you have shared with your neighbors will take their place with the rest of the news in the Columbia Missourian under the heading “From Readers.” …

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