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Open source news

December 6, 2004

Last week, France’s Le Monde became the first major global newspaper to offer its readers the opportunity to create and contribute blogs. It’s the first acknowledgement by “big media” that readers are looking to find and share their own voice and want to read content created from a variety of different perspectives. It represents a shift from the current trend, where media are simply getting journalists to write their own blogs.

story on le monde’s blog

There are other entities capitalizing on the opportunity to offer open source journalism.

Wikinews is one example, a spin-off from the Wikipedia, it offers people the chance to contribute stories and edit and add to existing ones.

wikinews

Another is ohmynews.com from South Korea. It employs 25 trained reporters, but has an additional staff 33,000 citizen journalists; a team of 10 in-house editors manages the input. The citizen journalists get a tiny stipend if their story makes the headlines.

korea’s ohmynews.com

The public are also getting involved in the celebrity photo scene. There’s an emerging group of citizen paparazzi, hunting down celebrities, armed with just their mobile phone cameras.

citizen celeb snappers

News media have the opportunity to wake-up and smell the trend. There are people out there with perspectives and voices who are eager to contribute and be heard. Then there are readers seeking a wide variety of perspectives. Conventional news brands have a choice, either they embrace the trend, or they risk loosing viewers and readers to new upstart brands.

This is all linked to the “Pro-Am” movement, a term coined by the British think-tank Demos, to describe a segment of the population who have expertise, are not looking for monetary gain, but want to share their “smarts” with a wider audience.

demos report on the pro-am economy

The power of the citizen journalist was in evidence during the recent tsunami tragedy,The Guardian reports on the role they played.

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