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How can credible citizen reporting be distinguished?

For the most part, citizen journalism remains unedited and unfiltered. But some Web sites are trying to change that. Citizen media site GroundReport, for instance, was founded in 2006 by a reporter hoping to find, highlight and monetize the most powerful and credible citizen media reports online.

The business model: Try to incentivize high quality work by paying contributors whose reports receive the most traffic, and vet content through a team of community and internal editors. Individuals, in a sense, become self-sustaining news producers.

What do you think: is a "self-policing" model such as GroundReport a way for credible reporters to distinguish themselves amidst the deluge of citizen reporting? Is this the future of citizen journalism? Are there other ways to distinguish credible citizen reporting?

Credible journalist

It may be difficult to control in the internet a writer to write with credibility. Established media organizations sometimes have stories coming out without checking out the credibility of the story. Hence, in the internet where many write for the sake of writing without the intent of spreading the truth has the pitfall of false articles.

Credibleness of the write-up still falls over the conscience of the journalist. As I said, some write for the sake of writing.

Fidel Duna Banzon http://leytesamardaily.net/category/opinion/ormoc-upside-down/

Credibility, however large or

Credibility, however large or small the community, can be a subjective quality. It is not easy to single-handedly convince the public that the reporter working next to you should be regarded as "The Credible One." It may be harder still if the citizen journalist him or herself is the one pitching for the much desired label. Credibility could take years to build (through consistently reliable reporting), or it could happen virtually overnight (being at the right place at the right time).

Credibility could mean constantly appeasing the majority of the audience by publishing or posting views that they like to hear, even though some elements in the report may not be true. A self-opinionated citizen journalist that conjures up a conspiracy theory from thin air can be regarded as "credible" if the theory, by chance, is in tune with the mere suspicions of many. But can the theory be tested? Just as different people see different elements in a photograph, users may have varying bases or criteria for judgment, ranging from personal to professional.

It is part of GroundReport's mission to prohibit plagiarized and copyright-infringing material. This can be seen as an active form of policing by the team of community and volunteer editors. But of the reports that do make it through to publication, how do we determine which are more credible than others?

Even the five-star user rating system used by GroundReport may not be a 100-percent proof of the credibility level of any particular contributor, for the reason that not all users who view or read the news material are driven to actually post a rating. In that sense, credibility is the result of evaluations made by the "active" consumers of the citizen news material.

In the long run, user feedback may work in determining credibility, or it may not. What if we were to employ tried-and-tested journalists to determine whether the citizen reports are credible? Would it make things better or worse?

What other ways can we distinguish credible citizen reporting? Possibilities could include external watchdogs, computer recognition, fact checking agencies, even reality TV shows. How about a global citizen journalism platform that covers citizen reporters themselves?

I wholeheartedly agree with

I wholeheartedly agree with you, msyrat. Credibility of news articles and journalists is measured by a variety of factors. Some people want to see cold hard evidence placed in front of them and some people are satisfied with unbiased anecdotes and here-says. I think the biggest problem for most journalists is probably plagiarism to some degree. One's written material isn't spoken word for word by journalists and reporters, but that material is paraphrased in such a way that it doesn't seem like it's been copied. Of course, one can't forget the issue the duplicate content either -- which is a major issue on the internet amongst bloggers and news writers.

However, I do wonder -- if something is published on the internet or on paper, is it immediately copyrighted or property of THAT creator? Wouldn't that person's name have to be labeled on the material? Just curious. Perhaps I should speak with an ip attorney so they could answer my questions.

Either way, great posts. Sorry for posting on here so late!

In a world where information

In a world where information is so easy to get your hands on, it is hard to grasp what is truth and what is fiction. I think that measuring the credibility of news articles is a crucial part of keeping journalists in business. It is also very easy for journalists to plagiarize and take other people's ideas and spin them into their own these days. I think if you are a good journalist, you will stay away from duplicate content. Duplicate content can only do a website and business harm according to an Indianapolis search engine optimization company that I recently spoke to. They have been taking a journalistic approach in their SEO process, and they say that great journalists with fresh and unique content are hard to find.

Credibility, however large or

Credibility, however large or small the community, can be a subjective quality. It is not easy to single-handedly convince the public that the reporter working next to you should be regarded as "The Credible One." It may be harder still if the citizen journalist him or herself is the one pitching for the much desired label. Credibility could take years to build (through consistently reliable reporting), or it could happen virtually overnight (being at the right place at the right time).

Credibility could mean constantly appeasing the majority of the audience by publishing or posting views that they like to hear, even though some elements in the report may not be true. A self-opinionated citizen journalist that conjures up a conspiracy theory from thin air can be regarded as "credible" if the theory, by chance, is in tune with the mere suspicions of many. But can the theory be tested? Just as different people see different elements in a photograph, users may have varying bases or criteria for judgment, ranging from personal to professional.

It is part of GroundReport's mission to prohibit plagiarized and copyright-infringing material. This can be seen as an active form of policing by the team of community and volunteer editors. But of the reports that do make it through to publication, how do we determine which are more credible than others?

Even the five-star user rating system used by GroundReport may not be a 100-percent proof of the credibility level of any particular contributor, for the reason that not all users who view or read the news material are driven to actually post a rating. In that sense, credibility is the result of evaluations made by the "active" consumers of the citizen news material.

In the long run, user feedback may work in determining credibility, or it may not. What if we were to employ tried-and-tested journalists to determine whether the citizen reports are credible? Would it make things better or worse?

What other ways can we distinguish credible citizen reporting? Possibilities could include external watchdogs, computer recognition, fact checking agencies, even reality TV shows. How about a global citizen journalism platform that covers citizen reporters themselves?

Feel free to share your thoughts on this.

Keeping a high quality on the

Keeping a high quality on the reporting is crucial. Here at Demotix- a photojournalism website - we have very few restrictions on what photojournalists should post, other than it should be original and journalistic. In order to check this we have regional editors that every day sort out what photos are newsworthy. The best images on our site are then filtered and mainstreamed to the main media.

Since our site sells the images we naturally receive a very high quality by our contributors.

This report by Reuters helps to explain what we do: http://www.reuters.com/news/video?videoId=93462.

Again open to more comments and ideas on this subject.

Veronica Regional editor Latin America www.demotix.com

I get skeptical when any form

I get skeptical when any form of policing of the media is mentioned. Though citizen journalism involves non professionals to a large extent, I still feel it would be ideal to let ideas flow. Consumer responses to individuals and the news outlets that use the reports would certainly weed out the undersirables and those who do not deliver. Policing in all circumstances is abhorent and not a good lesson that can easily be copied by predatory governments.

I applaud IJNET for asking

I applaud IJNET for asking such a crucial question. Citizen journalism platforms should all make credibility their first priority.

A little more background on what GroundReport does to vet content: -- Anyone can flag any article or video, and report abuse of GroundReport's guidelines -- Every reporter has a rating, out of five stars, that shows her average report rating over all time -- Every reporter has a profile that details all of his past work, as well as credentials -- MOST CRUCIALLY, GroundReport is eternally thankful for our hard-working core of selective Editors. Editors are professionally trained and can edit and flag any piece of reporting on GroundReport.com

I look forward to hearing your ideas on bringing higher journalism standards to citizen media!

Rachel Sterne http://groundreport.com/rachel

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