New York Times covers citizen journalism trend

Just caught an article that ran in yesterday’s New York Times about various local citizen journalism initiatives being carried out by individuals. (Also, make sure to check out David Carr’s interesting take on journalists blogging, and pay particularly attention to the section about news judgment being affected by page view metrics).

While Bob Tedeschi citizen journalism story is a nice look at the trend, I felt the story glossed over the profitability of the sites. About one site, Tedeschi writes:

“Readership [at] is growing, he said, with between 5,000 and 7,000 visitors clicking on the site daily. Advertising revenues are also increasing, he said. Although the site still loses money, Mr. Joseloff said he hoped to develop similar sites elsewhere in Fairfield County.”

Aside from that line, the article gives no sense as to whether these other small hyperlocal sites will implode like Backfence seems to be doing. Of course, for those doing it strictly out of passion, then I suppose it doesn’t really matter, now does it?

And on a side note, let me give kudos to the Times for their new social networking features, particularly the permalink feature. Even though Michael Arrington angrily dissed it, I think it’s a great thing.

[UPDATE – Jan. 16] Liz George from Baristanet and Gordon Joseloff from WestportNow have responded in the comments. Tish Grier says on her blog that “the New York Times doesn’t quite get what citizen journalism is about.”

Author: Danny Sanchez

Danny Sanchez is the Audience Development Manager at Tribune's and Danny has been with Tribune since 2005 in a variety of editorial, digital and product development roles in Hartford, Orlando and Fort Lauderdale. He has also previously worked in the newsrooms of the Tampa Bay Times and The Miami Herald.

5 thoughts on “New York Times covers citizen journalism trend”

  1. While Bob Tedeschi citizen journalism story is a nice look at the trend, I felt the story glossed over the profitability of the sites.

    Interestingly, Tedeschi asked us about profitability, but I guess it didn’t make the final cut. Baristanet is making money and paying salaries, so there is profitability without VC money like Backfence, and without the style sacrifice of an AmericanTowns more corporate, one-site-fits-all approach.

  2. Liz, that’s excellent to hear about Baristanet being profitable. My fear is that so many of these local sites are operating in a type of dot-com-esque bubble. It would be a tremendous shame to lose them. However, I remain optimistic. Thanks for dropping in with your thoughts.

  3. There is a passion to serve the community at, but I also believe there is a going business for these types of local operations. We have put a digital stake in the ground that is gaining readers (and attention).

  4. one of the biggest problems with Tedeschi’s article was how it lumped sites like in with sites like Baristanet and Westport now. Those are two *very* different kinds of citizen journalism models…indeed, feels more like a fancy bulleting board than a citizen journalism site–and the money to be made from it is going to people who are NOT connected to any of the communities the app desires to serve.

    It is, after all, an app. Not citizen journalism.

    Baristanet, WestportNow, iBrattleboro, The New Haven Independent, H2oTown, and many others are citizen journalism sites that are like small businesses–they are connected to communities, their writers living in those communities, and are free-standing. How their economic models play out *may* end up depending on different revenue streams these site owners develop to augment their cit j. This is not uncommon among many kinds of small businesses–freelance writing being one of those kinds of small businesses that depends on multiple related revenue streams.

    As for social networking on the Times…they had it for years in their Forums. They just didn’t know it.

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