“and the times they are a-changing’” … part III – what is a community news source?

What is a community news source?

Because local Websites and Columbia news, views and reviews are not “hold-it-in-your-hands” publications, does that mean they are not community news resources (newspapers)?

The courts seem to say,“Yes, they are.”

“U.S. District Judge Stewart Dalzell wrote in ACLU v. Reno, a leading Internet free-speech case that later reached the U.S. Supreme Court found that the Internet was ‘the most participatory form of mass speech yet developed’ and ‘a far more speech-enhancing medium than print.’

“Some Web sites call themselves news forums, bulletin boards or chat sites. The activity of participants/members of those sites — posting news, other information and views — is included by many in the term ‘blogging.’ (Source:http://www.firstamendmentcenter.org/press/topic.aspx?topic=blogging)

Two of the local sites operate under this definition; two others are registered with the Commonwealth’s Department of State as media enterprises. Online newspapers are much like hard-copy newspapers and have the same legal boundaries, such as laws regarding libel, privacy and copyright.

An online newspaper, also known as a web newspaper, is a newspaper that exists on the World Wide Web or Internet, either separately or as an online version of a printed periodical. The newspaper industry was a pioneer in the development of the Internet as a news distribution resource. Going online created more opportunities for newspapers, such as competing with broadcast journalism in presenting breaking news in a more timely manner. A 2008 Pew Research Center Report showed significant declines in audience for traditional newspapers and television stations.

“For young people, however, the internet now rivals television as a main source of national and international news. Nearly six-in-ten Americans younger than 30 (59%) say they get most of their national and international news online; an identical percentage cites television. In September 2007, twice as many young people said they relied mostly on television for news than mentioned the internet (68% vs. 34%). The move from circulation newspaper readership and television news viewer-ship to online sources of newsgathering indicates an opportunity for closer inspection of the format and content of current online news resources.”

The same survey found in a poll that online news is also more popular than the radio, showing how much things have changed. Around one third of mobile phone users also tap into the Internet for the latest news. 

The survey said: “The process Americans use to get news is based on foraging and opportunism. They seem to access news when the spirit moves them or they have a chance to check up on headlines.”

“The internet has enjoyed a huge increase in popularity in recent years, especially with the introduction of mobile phone technology meaning that phone users can now have access to the latest news wherever they are and at any time of day. The widespread use of Wifi means that news via the tv is available as well.

“The report said: ‘In this new multi-platform media environment, people’s relationship to news is becoming portable, personalized, and participatory.’ (Source: http://www.worldtvpc.com/blog/newspapers-news-internet/#ixzz1IrsR8Qps)

Across the world reporters are being taught to shoot video and to write in the succinct manner necessary for the Internet news pages. Journalism students in schools around the world are being taught about the ‘convergence’ of all media and the need to have knowledge and skills involving print, broadcast and web.

In Seattle, WA, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer became one of the country’s first major “online only” newspapers. “We’re going to focus on what readers are telling us they want and on what makes SeattlePI.com essential and unique—within the context of our local news mission, of course. We know what we do best, and we are going to build on the things that we know our readers love, and look to find new ways to inform and entertain them.”

“As citizen journalism grows, more and more people are looking at its relationship with mainstream media. According to a study in the spring edition of the Newspaper Research Journal, citizen journalism complements rather than substitutes commercial news sites.

“The study also indicates citizen journalism sites were further divided into ‘citizen news’ sites and ‘citizen blog’ sites. ‘The citizen news sites and citizen blog sites appear to be very different,’ researchers note. ‘The citizen news sites resemble daily newspaper sites more than do blog sites, which indicates clearly that blog and news sites are not necessarily substitutes for each other within a local community.’

 “When it comes to timeliness of reporting, the researchers noted citizen blogs sites are not typically as up-to-date as daily newspaper websites. Their findings indicated 27.1 percent of the 85 citizen blog sites evaluated had published news on the day researchers visited the site. Furthermore, 55.3 percent published during the past week and another 10.6 percent had published within two weeks.

“‘Citizen news sites were slightly more timely than citizen blog sites, but the vast majority was not timely if daily posting is the standard for timeliness,’ the study indicates.” (Source: http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/292589#ixzz1J0x57dnG)

New York Times executive editor, Bill Keller says this: “There is no question that in times of momentous news, readers rush to find reliable firsthand witness and seasoned judgment. (In the first hour after Mubarak fell, The Times’s Web site had an astounding one million page views, and friends at other major news organizations tell me they enjoyed a similar surge.) I can’t decide whether serious journalism is the kind of thing that lures an audience to a site like The Huffington Post, or if that’s like hiring a top chef to fancy up the menu at Hooters. But if serious journalism is about to enjoy a renaissance, I can only rejoice.”

So in response to those who harp that Columbia does not have a newspaper anymore, perhaps a more responsible comment might be, “Columbia does not have a  “hold-it-in-your-hands” newspaper … but Columbians are lucky that they do have an array of news and information sources including Lancaster newspaper and television sources, local citizen blogs and local online news resources.

Look for “and the times they are a-changin’” part IV next Tuesday, May 3.  

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