Pro-am journalsim?

September 21, 2010 § Leave a comment

Pro-am journalism, or community journalism, is a good idea in concept, but I haven’t seen it done well in many places. One example of something I wouldn’t even call journalism is neighborsgo.com

This site is hosted by The Dallas Morning News and lets anyone write a story for the site.

neighborsgo.com, journalism or free advertising?

But on this site there is a lot of the “am” and not so much of the “pro.” If you click on the “read stories” link, hidden below the “post stories” link, it opens a new window with a list of stories in descending order.

Lets look at the first stories listed.

Alzhiemer’s Caregivers Support Group:

This is an advertisement. This is not journalism.

GAAP Grant Writing Training for Churches & Non Profit Orgs.:

This is an advertisement. This is not journalism.

Are we seeing a pattern?

Is this the hard hitting reporting that journalists should pride themselves on?

Next an advertisement for a production of a play appears about five times. Lets hear it for spam.

Now the site looks good, it’s well designed and maintained but it is not journalism.

There is some, and I mean some, journalism on the site. Take for example the featured story. It is about some trail and how good it is to live in this town. But…

A) This man probably lives in this town so there is a conflict of interest.

B) The story is not really well written, after 2 years of editing others work if I see the word you in the lede I generally don’t read on.

The print edition is a bit better because it takes the few stories that are mildly good and puts them in the paper. But in today’s world where newspapers are disappearing this doesn’t mean much. What it does, is provide an incentive for people to write. Seeing your name in print still has an affect on people. And I can imagine this actually creates a mild profit for The Dallas Morning News, since they are not paying any of these “reporters” while taking in advertising money.

I have nothing against the pro am model. I think it can work. CNN’s ireport is an example. It is more filtered then neighboorsgo.com. But it did cause Apple’s stocks to plummet when someone posted that Steve Jobs died so there are obviously some kinks to work out in this model.

-Frank Posillico

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