The Hartford Courant in the US offers an interesting example of how a local paper can foster citizen journalism by gathering user-generated content online and then reverse publishing it into a print edition.
The Hartford Courant's feature, iTowns, is an online portal where readers can submit news briefs, post events, photos and videos.
In each of the 6 regions covered online by the paper, the Courant has a webhost and a local reporter who blogs about his zone and accompanies readers with their postings, in a pro-am process.
Six print tabloid iTowns editions are published every Sunday. The papers include a staff-written week-in review and two outdoor columns, but the rest of the content is entirely user-generated.
Furthermore, all user content is specific to the region covered by the edition.
For the covers of iTowns editions, the paper invites artists to submit their works, producing some beautiful front pages. The response was so good that the paper has created an online gallery for readers to submit their work.
Granted, as for any newspapers delving into citizen or pro-am journalism, this initiative has taken some reshuffling of staff.
"Believe me, I'm not bragging about the staffing part, that has been and continues to be tremendously difficult, it meant moving folks into roles they weren't terribly comfortable with and leaving holes in areas they once covered," wrote Melanie Shaffer, Director of Design and Graphics of The Hartford Courant.
But, "Overall, the response is terrific. We are giving the reader a place to give us their news and information, this is all the stuff we've been turning away for years for lack of space."
The Hartford Courant stands as a perfect example of a local paper engaging - and engaged by - its community.
Source: Visual Editors