Another citizen's media conference

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CjOur own Kevin McCrea attended J-Lab’s Citizens Media Summit last week. His takeaways from the confab:

Random bits of info I picked up last week at the media
conference:
  • Very easy to get people to contribute photos.  Flickr interface particularly
    good.  People are generally more comfortable sharing photos than
    writing
     
  • As we’ve learned before, some contributors like to be edited before their pieces
    are posted
     
  • Few like to be called "citizen journalist"
     
  • Partnerships (with other publications, etc.) are beneficial but eat up more time
    than anticipated
     
  • VoicesOfSanDiego.com, which is a non-profit, uses a PBS-style "membership
    program"
     
  • desire for more "technically savvy" journalists, particularly those who could
    integrate photo and video
     
  • YourHub.com: licensing (or, in their word, "syndicating") its platform
    throughout the country, with papers in CA and FL going live by the end of the
    year . . . having .
    a "this week’s topic" to lure contributions of a particular theme has never
    worked for them . . . has 42 websites and 15 print editions . . . used frisbees
    and dog chains in its promotional efforts . . . 26 employees . . . "people love
    the print edition" but it confuses people into not knowing about the website . .
    has a full-time customer service rep who would-be contributors can  call so
    that they can be walked through the steps of what needs to be done to contribute
    . . uses Unisys as a publishing system . . . "will be profitable by December"
    . . 7000 registered users . . . discovered that promoting the ability to
    contribute stories actually discouraged readers who simply wanted to read
    without contributing . . . took a while to realize that it is not a
    newspaper, and has already changed the website to get away from a newspaper look
    and feel
       
  • community reachout requires continual marketing even beyond the
    launch
     
  • check out BBC Video Nation for idea of how citizen video contributions can work
    well
     
  • even if a contributor is looking to publicize themselves through their pieces,
    that is still OK since that leads to promotion of the site itself (from
    Bakotopia
    band site)
     
  • at Bluffton Today, everyone who is photographed randomly for the site gets a
    business card that says "you’ve been spotted . . . check yourself out at
    blufftontoday.com" — great idea!!!
     
  • Adrian: encourage citizens to contribute technology, not just text/photos, to
    take better advantage of our content . . . BBC has language that encourages its
    users to create things with its tools
     
  • one paper discovered much less profanity in comments without a filter because
    that ended the gamesmanship and uses an eBay "trusted seller" model for
    contributors
     
  • Mary Lou: make contributors the stars . . . "If it’s local & legal, we
    publish it.  All of it." . . . continually suggest easy ways for people to
    contribute — photo contests work particularly well . . . print big for
    marketing and revenue . . . three out of four staffers not from the newspaper
    business, and staffers have to be open to a new kind of journalism . . people
    like to be edited
    .

Mike Orren is the Chief Product Officer of The Dallas Morning News; President of Belo Business Intelligence; husband to Crystal Orren; and a Mungarian at Munger Place Church in Dallas, TX. All opinions herein are mine alone.