Journalism has become a two way street. No longer do news organisations deliver news to their audience, the audience participates in making the news. Journalists rely on their readers to help create the news and report it to them via digital media. This process of audience participation just got a whole lot easier thanks to a new iPhone app.
As reported on Holdthefrontpage.co.uk, the app, developed by Concept 4 on behalf of The Chorley and Leyland Guardian , is one of the first U.K. iPhone apps to be developed for a local weekly paper and allows users to send text and images directly the newspaper. This should provide the newsroom with more user generated content than ever before, allowing reporters at The Chorley and Leyland Guardian to report on the stories that are the most significant to their readers.
So how does this compare with other methods of gathering user generated content? There are several ways in which an amateur reporter might go about sharing information:
Citizenside is a website which allows amateur reporters to sell interesting video or images to news organisations. While the site does encourage people who are not journalists by trade to engage with and create the news, they are encouraged to do so to profit. Citizenside advertises itself as offering prices which are 'up to 75%' higher than those offered by traditional news agencies.
So, CNN, much like The Chorley and Leyland Guardian, is relying on the public harbouring alternative, more altruistic, motives for sharing the news; perhaps genuine interest or a moral desire to publicise information.
Like the The Chorley and Leyland Guardian, both Citizenside and iReport are available via applications. The portability and accessibility of an app makes it so much easier for the user to quickly forward that email or send in that snap shot from their iPhone camera, so when the desire to share strikes, the user can do so no matter where they are.
The fact that the paper is a local weekly also means that a readers can share stories which would fail interest giant news corporations like CNN and that couldn't be sold on a site like Citizenside; for instance, stories about fund-raising for local charities and organisations, those smaller events that make up local life and which make local news relevant to readers.
Will other local papers follow this example to further engage their communities by allowing readers to contribute news?