Why Citizen Journalist Sites are Worrying Mainstream Media

Every morning, while drinking my green tea, I peruse The New York Times online. Like millions of people around the world, I have canceled my paper subscription to a local or national newspaper and instead rely on the Web to deliver the news.

But here’s a news flash: an increasing of us are getting our news from citizen journalist sites, or sites that feature news, photos and videos from people like you and me. Armed with camera phones and video cameras, average folks are reporting on news in their neighborhood and covering news from their perspective.

Here are some of the most popular citizen journalist sites and why I love them:

  • NowPublic is now one of my favorite news sites. Last weekend, NowPublic had lots of coverage about the earthquake in Indonesia. When I mentioned the earthquake to a client, she said, “what earthquake?”
  • Topix has a combination of syndicated news and user-generated news. I love that my home page is automatically personalized with Alexandria, VA news, even though I haven’t registered; I think they do a reverse DNS look-up against my IP address and determine my location.
  • IReport boasts that thousands of its user-generated stories have been used on CNN. I love the top tags and the ability to view the stories by highest rated, most viewed, most commented, and most shared.

The Pew Research Center says “the audiences for most traditional news sources have steadily declined, as the number of people getting news online has surged.” Today, I can read about an earthquake in Indonesia even if mainstream media doesn’t cover it, or only covers it sparingly. Wow.