7 Ways Newsrooms Can Boost Citizen Reporting

Trevor Knoblich | PBS.org | June 10, 2013

In my previous post, I argued that established, traditional newsrooms tend to be most comfortable accepting citizen reporting or user-generated content during a large-scale, widespread emergency event. In these circumstances, newsrooms often accept photo and video submissions from the public, or even seek them out on Instagram, Vine or Twitter. Professional journalists or editors may curate tweets or blog posts to summarize the experience of citizens. They may also make a public request for input from those affected, or to clarify incoming information.

This input is incredibly valuable during a crisis. Citizen reports provide context and nuance, as well as a broader and more inclusive range of voices than mainstream commentators and information sources. In some cases, citizen reporters can emphasize issues that public officials have downplayed or overlooked.

Traditional newsrooms rarely create an environment that fosters this level of interaction outside of major emergencies. In my last post, I outlined a few of the reasons I suspect this happens. Here, I’d like to focus on ways a newsroom might be able to cultivate more frequent interaction with citizens.