Every human language has a word that means news: @MargaretSimons #CBAAConf

“Citizen journalism is seen as new, but the activity is as old as human kind,”  Margaret Simons from the Centre for Advancing Journalism told a CBAA Conference session this morning.
“People have been committing acts of journalism for centuries by sharing news and information with each other.
“Every human language has a word that means news…
“But not everyone who publishes a blog is doing journalism. Journalism has evolved to be dispassionate information that is useful to citizens, not just opinion or gossip.”
Simmons says journalism is about reporting facts and information that is useful for citizens.
Discussing cuts to newsrooms and the contraction of mainstream commercial journalism, she said “investigative journalism is doing fine at the moment, but what is suffering is local journalism.”
“Most newsrooms are no longer covering local government and local councils schools, police… this is an opportunity for community broadcasters.”
Session moderator, 2SER’s Melanie Withnall said community broadcasters who are serious about reporting news should keep in mind that verification is an important element of news. “Always check, don’t put gossip out there… verification is the way of making sure you are not just publishing gossip, so is asking tough questions when they need to be asked.”
Outlining the brief for 2SER’s newsroom, Withnall said: “Community radio news has trust, because listeners to community radio know they are hearing real people. We need to keep that trust by being ethical, having good standards and giving our audiences views they can’t hear elsewhere.
“It is an important position for community radio to be in at this time when other media are losing trust and credibility because of commercial interests, staff cuts, budget cuts and over dependence on media releases.”
William Martin has started a local news team at Bay FM Byron Bay. They do investigative current affairs style reporting in a different way.
“The station is building a news and podcast portal. Local stories will be contributed and shared. We will fund log term stories through crowd funding. We aim to crowd source the topics and crowd fund them,” he said.
Bay FM wants to work with other stations to beta test this experimental way of doing journalism on a new platform.
“Journalism deepens peoples understanding of the world, it is very important… But good journalism is not always easy, we need to work hard to do it properly because credibility is so important. Poor journalism will kill community radio news.”
The approach at Bay FM is not to turn citizen journalists into experts, but to turn experts into citizen journalists. They find experts in the community and help them to tell their own stories through community media and social media platforms.
“The people in our newsroom are incredibly passionate about our community… the strength of community radio is that they are in the community,” he said.
Radio Skid Row’s Kween G talked about several programs on her station that also gather news, but they do so in a very different way.
Skid Row has a show called Good Morning Nomads for people on the streets. Homeless people bring their stories into the station and air them on the show.
The station also has reporters who go out to the streets and interview street people, buskers and others. “If you want to discuss issues of homelessness go and talk to the homeless, not just experts or ministers… that’s what we do,” she said.
During question time comments from delegates, several stations talked about how the community is now asking more of community stations because commercial and ABC stations no longer have local newsrooms in their towns. A station in Ballarat said they want to produce more local news because there is no ABC regional news presence in that town any more.

Tags: | | | | | | |