Who decides what news goes to print?
It’s one of those bugbear questions in print and broadcast journalism. And in these days of shrinking news rooms, budgetary constraints and increased competition among outlets, media agencies have been focusing wide in the search for larger audiences.
So the answer to ‘who decides’ is partly editors and partly the market (Whoa! That’s way oversimplified, I know). But a combination of these (and other) factors has left ‘local’ news stories with fewer column inches, and that’s creating a gap between media and the community it aims to represent.
In an effort to create true ‘local news’ format, Toronto based OpenFile is focussed on community level, collaborative reporting. Just launched last May, OpenFile is on the hunt for journalists who embrace the collaborative model.
So how does a ‘collaborative local news site’ work? In a nutshell, anybody can open a file on a topic, and if the editors and community think it’s of interest, they’ll assign a journalist to report on it. What’s more, because there’s no decision making about use of limited space, stories don’t ‘die’. They are always live, and ready be relayed via the swathe of today’s online channels.
For mediaphiles and freelancers alike – this is great news, especially for the social networking savvy news buff.
Craig Silverman, journalist, author of Regret the Error, and the managing editor of PBS.org MediaShift and now DigitalJournalism Director at OpenFile, talked about their approach to a pressing news question: how to create a real opportunity for ‘journalists looking to thrive in a digital media world … who are open to interaction via social media’.
With collaboration and freelancing two concepts very close to Mediaville’s heart, it seemed natural to find out how those ideas fit into the OpenFile operation:
This is really at the heart of the OpenFile’s editorial model and its business model.
There’s kind of a general shift in society toward people being self-employed, toward people working on contracts, towards a more flexible and fluid working environment.
And so when you look at that and you see the growth in the number of freelancers that are out there, you see the amount of layoffs and buyouts that have happened in large media and suddenly you get this picture that … why hire a bunch of people in a newsroom when you could just try and easily find the right freelancer to work for the right story?
So, for [OpenFile] one of the fundamentals of the model is that we’re not looking to build a big staff. We’re looking to be flexible to the point where we can find the right freelancer for the right story.
[Continues in the next post...]