Citizen Newspapers

I’ve been waiting for a quality citizen newspaper to hit the cyber streets. One that gives me the headlines, and links to similar articles, updated by my peers, trustworthy (!), maybe ability to comment and rant, and so on. In the meantime, I have news aggregators such as Yahoo!7 News headlines and GoogleNews and stuff emailed to me; if I’m interested I click through and if I can find the article’s text in amongst the barrage of ads, I’m happy. Need more information? Hop over to Wikipedia and grab more indepth stuff, I’m home and hosed.

I’m also a fool.

Wikipedia is the citizen newspaper. I saw Ken Lay’s death reported on a few news services and read the brief info there. Then I had a giggle at Crikey.com’s article, they are soooo naughty and irreverent aren’t they? (irreverent I said, not irrelevant!). Then I scampered over to Wikipedia to read their bits and bobs on Ken Lay and Enron. It wasn’t until I came across this piece from the Washington Post that I remembered (again) that WikiPedia is updated in realtime by real people. Silly me.

Ken Lay’s death prompts confusion on Wikipedia
ReutersWednesday, July 5, 2006; 5:55 PM
NEW YORK (Reuters) – The death of former Enron Corp. chief Ken Lay on Wednesday underscored the challenges facing online encyclopedia Wikipedia (http://www.wikipedia.org/), which as the news was breaking offered a variety of causes for his death.

Wikipedia, an online encyclopedia that anyone can edit, added news of Lay’s death to his online biography shortly after news outlets began reporting it at around 10 a.m. EDT (1400 GMT).
At 10:06 a.m., Wikipedia’s entry for Lay said he died “of an apparent suicide.”
At 10:08, it said he died at his Aspen, Colorado home “of an apparent [heart attack] or [suicide].”
Within the same minute, it said the cause of death was “yet to be determined.”
At 10:09 a.m., it said “no further details have been officially released” about the death.
Two minutes later, it said: “The guilt of ruining so many lives finally (sic) led him to his suicide.”
At 10.12 a.m., this was replaced by: “According to Lay’s pastor the cause was a ‘massive coronary’ heart attack.”
By 10:39 a.m., Lay’s entry said: “Speculation as to the cause of the heart attack lead many people to believe it was due to the amount of stress put on him by the Enron trial.” This statement was later dropped.
By early Wednesday afternoon, the entry said Lay was pronounced dead at Aspen Valley Hospital, citing the Pitkin, Colorado sheriff’s department. It said he apparently died of a massive heart attack, citing KHOU-TV in Houston.

Officials at Wikipedia did not immediately return phone and e-mail requests for comment. Its Web site warns users that “newer articles may still contain significant misinformation, unencyclopedic content, or vandalism.” Wikipedia says it has 13,000 active writers and editors.

The real question here is; Do we care that “newer articles may still contain significant misinformation”? Do we care that the information takes a day or two to settle down? Do we believe think it’s less relevant than waiting on a journo who will report what the secretary said, or a ‘source close to the deceased’??

I don’t.

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Laurel Papworth

Named by Forbes™ Magazine in the Top 50 Social Media Influencers globally, named Head of Industry, Social Media (Marketing Magazine™) and in the Power150 Media bloggers (AdAge™). CERT IV Training and Assessment certified trainer (Diplomas and Certificates etc) Adult Education. Laurel has manager Facebook Pages for Junior Masterchef, Idol, Big Brother etc. and have consulted on private online communities for banks Westpac, not for profits UNHCR & governments in SE Asia. Lecturer, social media, University of Sydney for 10 years and Laurel has 11,000 online students. Laurel Papworth personally connects to 6 million followers online and has taught around 100,000 people in the last 10 years how to be social media managers.

2 thoughts on “Citizen Newspapers

  1. Hey Laurel – so what’s different. Official news sources – and the Government itself – were coming out with different versions of Private Kovco’s death for up to 48 hours.

    I think you can find the same on televised news – its easy to show the picture of the burning building, but what caused the blaze.

    The professional media would argue that they provide two features – they offer selection (you can’t report everything) and verification (you can trust that we’ve checked this). I think online citizen news can get to verification almost as quickly.

  2. I was speaking to some journalists from the Press Gallery in Canberra. A lot of their sources are *secret*. People with an axe to grind who spill the beans on condition of anonymity. Experts in a particular area who believe their findings were not reportedly accurately in Gov papers and so on. However, after reporting the information to their fave press guy, they can often feel further maligned if the information is ignored (not of interest to the public) or given a spin and so on.

    Enter the blog. Those sources are going to dry up for the journo – the relationship will become even more fragile. Will any and every blogger have the exposure they want? No of course not, but a few will break through, become must-reads, and have 15 lines of fame. Will they take on the role the Press Gallery guys presently have? What can be done? Ah, well a few things. The Journo has the edge here and can maximise it. I’m not saying it will be easy – just don’t leave it too late!

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