Throughout history, newspapers served as watchdogs of government officials and vehicles for community news and happenings, including being the public’s voice.
When corporate businessmen took over, they found themselves answering to shareholders by attempting to hit 20-percent profit margins.
Because of this, they launched special projects in an effort to generate more advertising revenue, relying on smaller news staffs to create articles and design the publications.
From 2008 through 2010, thousands of journalists and other newspaper employees from Florida to the Midwest to California lost their jobs when advertising revenue declined and drastically impacted profits.
Since this industry change, veteran journalists have spent recent years rediscovering community journalism by taking advantage of immediate feedback and interaction with their readers through the Internet.
What are the basic necessities journalists must implement in order to be a true online community news portal?
1. Any Internet news site must exercise journalistic ethics. You must be truthful, accurate, fair and concise, as well as dedicated to serving the readers. Only use credible sources and do not be self-serving.
2. Ensure that your site and brand are focused on the needs of the community. Be responsive to your readers and offer the opportunity for readers to have a voice.
3. Interact with readers. When they ask questions, do your best to answer their questions, or be honest and tell them you don’t know, but will work to find out.
4. Monitor any and all interaction to prevent uncivil and obscene attacks. Accessibility doesn’t mean you should lower your standards. Readers will respect the site and you for keeping interaction civil.
5. Utilize social media like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Tumblr, and a myriad of other websites. These avenues are already being utilized by your readers. If you do not use these opportunities for online social interaction, you are missing the chance to expand your venture.
One word of caution: If you are planning this venture to become rich, you’re in the business for the wrong reason and should reconsider. Income is possible, but if this fresh approach to journalism is motivated by the bottom line and not the reader, it is no better than the current newspaper industry.