by Ryan Somma
Collaborative journalism emerged in the early 00s as a new form of interactive journalism that is highly encouraged by social networking media. Embracing a paradigm shift from traditional media towards online media, digital technology has influenced journalism in the organizational structure of the newsrooms, in the way journalists do their work, in the news content and in the form of relationships between news organizations, journalists and the public.
Focusing on the aggregation of information from various non-affiliated sources to ensure the integrity, completeness and newsworthiness of a single story, collaborative journalism has been implemented in numerous ways. New media such as the Internet, World Wide Web and digital video are possibly the most visible examples of technologies that transformed journalism.
In the cooperative model, journalists work in conjunction with each other, jointly producing stories that cannot be attributed to a single reporter. Instead of developing single, separate stories, editors present a complete story as the product of composition and distribution of knowledge. Besides, aggregation of information, in spite of the challenges it poses, can inaugurate new approaches to journalistic inquiry. The interactivity of digital environments entices readers to become active contributors of knowledge by exchanging ideas through blogging, social networking, participating in networked discussion groups and sharing community.
The most commonly known examples of online channels of collaborative journalism are Wikinews, launched in 2003, and Newsvine, launched in 2005. Besides, mainstream social networking websites such as Twitter and Facebook have put a growing pressure on traditional print media. Journalists exchange messages on the stories they cover to expand their articles. This whole new crowd of people represents a new cluster of journalists, who are empowered by advanced technology to collaborate and, ultimately, they bring about a single story that is formed by many different contributors.
Collaborative journalism has been adopted by various mainstream news organizations in an effort to develop a more reader-oriented strategy through use of news aggregation.
In December 2008, The New York Times launched the Beta version of their website, the Times Extra with links to outside news sites and blogs along with the articles published.
The Washington Post’s ‘Political Browser’ is a similar example. Launched in November 2008, ‘Political Browser’ is a political page that freely links to related content from competitors featuring ‘Required Reading’, ‘Staff Picks’ ‘Best of The Post section’ and summing up articles in newspapers and magazines.
Chicago-based channel NBC introduced Web sites for local TV sites with links to local newspapers, radio broadcasts, online videos, and blogs. Initiated in October 2008, NBC’s local media company has hired over 50 people to produce original content and filter the Web. After the test version that included links to USA Today, The Chicago Sun-Times, TMZ and the local blog Chicagoist, NBC’s linking was out.
In effect, all above examples represent an attitude shift. In the past, news organizations, TV websites, radios, magazines, and the news industry in general were hesitant about linking to outside websites so that they kept users on their own sites. Before embracing collaborative journalism, more time spent on a webpage would equate to larger advertising revenue for Web sites.
Today, news organizations are open to linking to other sources of information. News sites collaborate with other websites and link to all sorts of reliable sources displaying a shift of organizational strategy that aims at directing readers towards useful content anywhere on the Web.
The cooperative model and the advanced technology that comes along facilitate journalists to research for their content and work together to explore, produce and disseminate knowledge. In the context of collaborative journalism, collaboration can be equally defined as cooperation, teamwork, communication, community and social networking.
Conclusively, as readers become more sophisticated and demanding, news organizations need to filter the information and link to the most reliable information available on the Web. In return, their websites become a connecting point where readers keep on visiting to find any sort of interesting streams. In this context, collaborative journalism achieves much more than, what would otherwise be the sole effort of a traditional journalist, affiliated to a news organization, and possibly hesitant to transform into an influential editorial intelligence on the Web.
Written by Christina Pomoni
Financial Adviser – Freelancer Writer