Will 2005 be the year of Citizens Media?

Dan Gillmor’s decision last month to leave the San Jose Mercury News to work on a citizens-journalism project and the increasing roll of blogs (ABC News: People of the Year: Bloggers — Internet Phenomenon Provides Unique Insight Into People’s Thoughts)
in the news media has many writing about the evolving roll of “traditional” or “mainstream” media. Even today’s Opus was about blogs.

Steve Outing: What Journalists Can Learn From Bloggers says news organizations need to recognize that the news cycle is shorter and that publishing a story is just the beginning of “news as conversation”, and not the end as too many organizations follow. Outing notes that bloggers may becoming more traditional as they deal with business plans and growing staffs.

A few days later, Outing wrote What Bloggers Can Learn From Journalists advocating the role of the editor (as a second set of eyes), the value of original reporting, the evolving issue of blogger ethics, accuracy and tight headline writing. Outing also raises a risk solo journalists face of the costs of defending themselves from libel.

Jay Rosen writing in PressThink has Top Ten Ideas for 2004. He’s still publishing details of the 10, but “The Legacy Media”, “He said, she said, we said“, Open Source Journalism, or “My readers know more than I do“, and “News turns from a lecture to a conversation” gives strong encouragement for citizen journalists.

Philip Meyer wrote in “Saving Journalism” Columbia Journalism Review that the business model of newspapers has been irreversibly changed.

If we are to preserve journalism and its social-service functions, maybe we would be wise not to focus too much on traditional media. The death spiral might be irreversible. We should look for ways to keep the spirit and tradition of socially responsible journalism alive until it finds a home in some new media form whose nature we can only guess at today.

He suggests a foundation-supported, nonprofit model, such as NPR.

The financial pain traditional media feels grows. (ClickZ — Study: Craigslist Costs Bay Area Newspapers $50M/Year). I haven’t seen any recent estimates on revenue newspapers are losing to eBay, online car-buying sites, job posting sites, etc.

Jeff Jarvis in BuzzMachine touches on the various suggestions of how the citizen media can make money including vertical search, content distribution, hosting.

The bottom line to all this is: You can see why I’m not a VC. But that’s why I enjoy this discussion happening in public, for we all get to see the thought process — the betting process — VCs and entrepreneurs must go through (and I hope more join in).

There’s no question that there are big, society-changing things here and that people will make and lose big money on their bets. But which bets will win? Well, your guess is as good as mine. So guess, please….

Gillmor has a new blog about citizen journalism. Gillmor’s trigger for leaving was his book, published in the second half of 2004 We the Media declaration>We the Media, which will reports on the citizens media.

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