Where Citizen Journalism and Mainstream Media are merging…Santa Rosa

March 22, 2007

Looks like one place where the new paradigm of news and the old are coming together (a collision or confluence?) is a tiny TV station in Santa Rosa, California. The Clear Channel owned station has fired its paid news staff and is turning entirely to neighbors, friends, activists, and anyone who wants to participate to cover the local news.

This is more than desperate cost cutting on the part of station management. It is a clear sign of the times as has been commented on here earlier. The competitive pressures, in part coming from the Internet and in part coming from the impossible demands of Wall Street, are putting the squeeze on news organizations. This came up in conversation with a client yesterday as we were discussing use of video.

Client: But most news organizations don’t want to use video that you provide.

Me: Well, that used to be more true than now. With the squeeze on the news organizations plus the heightened need for compelling video not just on tv news shows but now on their news websites as well, they are much more willing and interested to take whatever video they can find that will help them tell their story and attract audiences.

Client: Even B-roll?

Me: if it is compelling, relevant and helps tell their story.

The owners of MSM outlets are getting the idea that there are 60-70 million “journalists” out there willing to spend good parts of their day “reporting,” commenting, researching, reading and doing a lot of other things journalists get paid to do. Except they do it for the love of it, the recognition and in some cases, the indirect business benefits. Why not make use of this horde to do what the station owners and managers need to do: attract and audience, sell ads, make some money, keep the doors open.

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