Integrated citizen journalism
I have had the pleasure of chatting with Meera K and Subbu Vincent the editors of Citizen Matters. It's a weekly magazine in print and online that does what it says on the tin. Based in Bangalore it is a well integrated mix of traditional journalism and citizen reporting. That's reporting more than just opinion.
I found it interesting that the way the magazine works is to publish pieces sometimes created by regular citizens with the help of journalists rather than cutting and pasting opinion quotes or adding comments to news pieces. I would have thought this would be more labour intensive but the team at the magazine make it look seamless.
The team at Citizen Matters is small; eight people including the editors and only two of that number are journalists reporting for that publication. They cover weekly news but also have a keen ear for local issues. One of the benefits of working this way is ensuring that they tap into local knowledge and experience to create depth to their stories.
Opening up journalistic skills and sharing them to create this hybrid system might be a good way to move news making forward. Subbu tells me that most journalists in the Indian newsprint business do not credit citizen reporting as it is not a professional approach. But with the relevant coaching, they are starting to see submissions that do not require a lot of work to get them into shape for mainstream publishing.
Citizen Matters is making user generated content relevant and appealing without portioning it off into a section of their website that makes reader contributions look like decoration for news. Their web-native origin also means that they are social, web literate and communicate easily with their community. The editors acknowledge that they are still too new to have the same level of trust as say, The Times of India or the Express here, but they are creating a network of people who know when their input will valuable.
They're still a young publication, but they are growing fast and with the balance and understanding that I saw in their office, it's possible they will soon be a challenge to the established news media in this city.
More from Bangalore soon,