Risk Reduction, Outsourcing, and UGC

UPDATE: this post is part of a international seminar "Towards Participatory Journalism" at the University of Tampere in Finland, where I participated via video uplink today. Check out all the other presentations (PowerPoints) of Thorsten Quandt, David Domingo, Jane Singer, Steve Paulussen, and Esa Sirkkunen here.

Think about the following quote from a story by Kate Kaye for Clickz on the rise of 'citizen journalism' among mainstream news operations (in the US):

For newspaper sites in need of creating more volume, enabling user-generated content "is the cheapest way to foster bigger growth," said Ken Doctor, lead news analyst at media market research firm Outsell. User-created content can double inventory volume at a production cost of one to three percent the cost of staff-produced newspaper content, Doctor added.

Now, consider the recent news about large layoffs at news operations such as Santa Rosa, California-based TV50, and at Florida-based Media General (who started the much-touted converged TBO.com) in favor of what is labeled as "hyperlocal" and "interactive" community websites.

Add to that the increase in outsourcing in journalism, and the reported rise in so-called "atypical" work (as in: temporary, contingent, or otherwise precarious labor) in the media in general - and in journalism in particular.


Outsourcing, layoffs, citizen journalism, user-generated content, and hyperlocalism all correlate.

So who are living in these 'hyperlocal' areas that are now supposed to cover their own news?


The same people that used to be of primary interest to the advertisers sponsoring mainstream news in the first place: affluent, white, middle class and largely suburban households.

Giving voice to the voiceless? Don't make me (horse) laugh.