Over on the Watershed Chronicle, an interesting blog by Dan Meadows, there is an informative piece on citizen journalism. It talks about how this new medium is starting to impact legacy media by drawing readers who aren’t getting the news they want from the mainstream press. It’s something many of us interested in civic affairs in Cecil County are fully aware of. The professional press in the county has pulled back on local content, failing to cover so much of what happens, particularly the harder content related to public policy matters and local politics.
The idea behind citizen journalist is that members of the public through easily published blogs provide news and comment about current events, since print leaves so many gaps in coverage. People are looking for relevant information, which is hard to find as the corporations pull back resources from hard-working newsrooms. But as more balanced weblogs come online, it will once again give us lots more perspective to consider, something we once had when four journalist often covered Elkton town meetings.
Interestingly, the competition in this legacy industry is heating up here, despite sharp declines in revenue. In the past few weeks, we’ve witnessed the launch of an additional classified advertising circular and a new weekly newspaper. Couple that with the launch of two magazines a few years ago and its a crowded market. There are four newspapers specifically covering the county beat, two magazines, two classified circulars and perhaps some we missed. Our problem is not the number of publications, but the depth of coverage. Hopefully, the new weekly will begin digging into the harder stories and fill the gap. We’ll have to just wait and see how this turns out.
Click here to go to the Watershed Chronicle Article
We discovered citizen journalism after the Whig refused to cover the town’s attempt to turn over some recently acuqired public land to a developer. When the paper refused to cover it and the months dragged on as the town board moved ahead with its plans, we turned to the only alternative available for getting the information out. What’s interesting is that if the Whig had picked up on the story, which really was a good one for a paper covering local news, we’d never have thought about this delivery method. But as the situation unfolded we became so aware of how much important news was taking place in those meetings and it wasn’t getting any ink. So we try to fill that gap a little, and we try to keep it balanced. Some political leaders would really disagree with that, but any independent evaluation by non-interested politicians would agree that we keep a balance on this blog.