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Newspapers are finding their citizen journalism roots

Newspapers can do citizen journalism too. Take this from the East Anglian Daily Times today:

Eye

Town Hall Clock: The town hall clock in Eye, which has been out of action for several weeks should be working again by the weekend. Richard Dinnin, chairman of the town hall working party, said the clock had been fitted with auto winders but after being started had stopped after 25 minutes due to an electrical fault.

Recent wind and rain had held up the rest of the work, which included repairs to the plinth, striker and weather vane but it was hoped all would be in order for the open gardens event.

The column-and-a-half under the Eye heading has eight items including a bowls match, an exhibition of children’s art and a Women’s Institute outing. It is part of the five page EACommunity section (no uploaded to the web) in the recently redesigned Archant-owned regional morning based in Ipswich, Suffolk.

Mostly it is tight packed items with no headlines other than the name of the village but each page has a larger story with a contributed picture. Only an item about a charity walk at the front of the section has staff pix.

Norwich-based Archant is seeing its future as local as it expands out of its eastern base buying up weekly newspapers (free and paid) and local magazines from Scotland to the West Country and London. The Eastern Daily Press in Norwich is now England’s largest circulation morning paper produced outside London.

In truth, there is nothing new about citizen journalism in newspapers. It is just that newspapers have lost sight of their readers in the past 30 or 40 years.
Before that, local papers were full of submitted copy from clubs and associations and most employed penny-a-line correspondents in villages. The headlines had active verbs and told you what the story was about.

In the early days of newspapers, stories were really letters, and we still use the word correspondent. People in towns across the land were writing letters to the London papers as were merchants and army officers around the world. Slowly journalism became a regular occupation, but the origins of our trade was in the bloggers and citizen journalists of the day.

Somehow as we fought the competition of radio and TV, news values changed and we lost sight of the importance of proximity at its base-level in streets and villages.

Under the influence (threat might be a better word) of the internet newspapers are starting to rediscover the importance of the proximity of news in holding readers.

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