News in a Web “You.0” World

“As an anchor in this new medium, what I do is a
combination of traditional reporting and pointing people to where they can find
the story told best.”
Nicole Lapin, host of CNN.com Live Video

ABC News, which recently sold
more “upfront” ad space than any other network news division, is laying off 35
employees yet expanding its online operations.


That’s right: traditional broadcast journalists out,
digital news diggers in.


Now
this “news” isn’t really news to anyone who’s been following the epic
transformation of the business. What is interesting, however, is the shift from
news reporters to news “enablers.”


It’s
not like the TV networks and newspapers are hiring armies of online reporters or
moving seasoned staff to digital-only desks. Reporters – the ones left – are
required to report for both the traditional and new mediums, and the new hires
are there to help consumers access that news better or help them create and
contribute stories themselves.


Web
2.0, meet Web You.0 – if you want the stories you want, then you better create
them yourself.

Newspapers used to deride bloggers; now newspapers like
the Houston Chronicle
want you to blog for them and “engage in conversation” with staff bloggers. The
Washington Post will link to your
blog – so in addition to reading a Post story about Iraq, from that same online
article you can read what your neighbor thinks, too.


Anderson Cooper wants to chat with you. Networks and
newspapers want your on-the-scene videos of breaking events. All of this great
You.0 content means more staff needed to handle the flood of digital data – and
less staff reporters to cover those same events.


I’m
all for citizen media and have been for a long time. And while some focus on
lapses in credible or skilled reporting, we cannot overlook the fact that so
many people are taking the time to get involved in the news. The audience is not
only growing but participating, and younger people are getting involved too,
mostly via their social networks.


Yet
as with most good things, they are experienced best in moderation. Reporters,
even the best of the best, need editors to guide them. Amateur reporters will
need the same kind of guidance if news organizations hope to maintain and build
their credibility in a Web You.0 world.


We
saw with the Virginia Tech shooting tragedy that traditional media organizations
are becoming more comfortable letting citizens take the lead, at least in those
early “triage” moments of major events when just getting information is the key
objective and the deeper reporting and analysis can wait for the media cavalry.
But citizens are performing the latter services as well, sometimes with great
alacrity and competence.


How
traditional media handle this next phase of citizen media is critical
– not just for the survival of “Web You.0” news, but for the survival of traditional media companies themselves.

 

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