Is Citizen Journalism and User Generated Content simply an overrated fad?
Leah McBride Mensching smugly declares:
The fad journalism model is being brought down by poorly written and poorly presented content that is greatly inferior to content produced by experts, they say. To put it bluntly, if you need information on a subject, would you rather rely on the edited and proofread opinion of an expert, or the misspelled musings from some guy sitting in his basement?
I’m not completely sure what the parameters of user generated content in this context. Last I checked, YouTube was doing pretty well from an audience standpoint with a combination of user and professional videos.
One of the attractions of Facebook for me (Beacon issues notwithstanding) is the “news feed” of friends.
Digg, Reddit and Propeller also seem to have enviable audiences. And there’s Slashdot and Fark, both driven by what the users find interesting.
Yelp is another site that has smartly developed a business on user generated content. And Amazon seems to have leveraged user reviews to greatly enhance the authority of its product descriptions.
While reader comments on news articles often bring out the worst in people, on balance, I think, they enhance.
The failures of the Enthusiast Group, Backfence and YourHub reflect the failure of approaches or models, approaches particularly favored by newspapers or former newspaper workers. These sites all failed to reach their lofty goals because they didn’t provide enough value for the effort required. As Steve Boriss says, new models will invariably develop. His example of a successful model, in part, relies on the selection and editing by journalists of user content.
As far as writers in basements go, it depends on the writer. Luckily, I don’t have a basement to write from, but I’ve never felt dumber in one; only colder.
If I’m looking for information on a particular subject, I’ll take the subject expert over the expert in journalism writing about the subject hands down.
If finding that subject expert makes you a journalism expert with a successful content model, invest heavily in aggregation tools and bring user generated content to your readers instead of asking the user generated content to come to you.