Citizens media shows explosive growth

If there is one person in the traditional media world who really gets what’s happening in new media, it’s John Robinson, editor of the Greensboro News & Record. His paper is knee-deep in exploring citizens media and how a mainstream media source can work with its citizens to produce better news. His Sunday column is worth reading:

I don’t see us in the newspaper business. We’re in the business of connecting communities: people to information, people to other people, and buyers to sellers. We use newspapers and the Internet. We use the printed word, audio through podcasting, and visuals with photography and video.

It’s all still journalism…

…The news business is changing faster than ever. Your newspaper is changing with it, embracing the era of show-me journalism and building new audiences in new places.

Speaking of citizens media, stroll on over to and take a look. Here is a community media site that is entirely citizen-generated. It launched Friday, and Steve Yelvington says, “No fooling! We flip the newspaper site model upside down.” is a grand experiment in citizen journalism, a complete inversion of the typical “online newspaper” model, an Internet-powered interactive community center.

Here’s a short list of what we’re doing:

  • Everyone gets a blog. Not just staffers, but everyone in the community. LeMonde (France) and the Mail and Guardian (South Africa) are doing this, too. I don’t know of others but would appreciate pointers.
  • Everyone gets a photo gallery.
  • Everyone can contribute events to a shared public community calendar.
  • Everyone can contribute recipes to a community cookbook.
  • RSS feeds are everywhere — all the blogs collectively, all the blogs individually, classified ad search results and so forth.
  • For people with Windows XP, we’re giving away BT Reader, a branded, customized RSS application that fully supports podcasting. It comes preloaded with RSS feeds from and
We’re going to be seeing more and more of these efforts as the months go by. Where does your company stand as it regards citizens media?

I keep telling clients and friends that time is the biggest enemy in adopting a viable citizens media strategy. That’s because these things are moving at light speed, and there’s a huge prize for getting there first.

To that end, Rex Hammock comments on a Pew study released over the weekend saying that over six million Americans have downloaded a podcast.

Is that (six million) a lot? Consider that on September 28, 2004, or 188 days ago, a Google search for the word “podcasts” had only 24 results.
From zero to six million in 188 days? ‘Nuff said.

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