ARTICLE: News editors hold simplistic views of citizen journalism

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Most US news editors define citizen journalism only through a single qualifying factor, write Deborah S. Chung and Seungahn Nah, both of University of Kentucky, with Masahiro Yamamoto, of State University of New York. The authors surveyed 142 American “top editors” -executive editors, editors-in-chief, and the like- who were all asked to define “citizen journalism”.

The authors identified ten concepts through which editors define citizen journalism, for example training, amateurishness, and content quality. Most respondents (64.9 per cent) defined citizen journalism through only one of the concepts, while additional 26.3 per cent have a “two-dimensional understanding” of citizen journalism. Nine editors (8 per cent) used three concepts. Four concepts (mentioned only by one editor) appears to be the peak level of complexity perceived by editors.

The most commonly cited qualifier was training (20.6 per cent), usually in the context of citizen journalists lacking it. Some editors, however, did define citizen journalist as someone with proper training. Some of the other concepts associated with citizen journalism are community engagement (15.6 per cent), locality (8.5), and collaboration (4.3).

The article “Conceptualizing citizen journalism” was published by the journal Journalism. It is available online (abstract free).

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