Another small step for citizen journalism

Tonight at 11, news by neighbors / Santa Rosa TV station fires news staff, to ask local folks to provide programming:

Steve Spendlove realizes that after last month’s layoffs of most of the news-gathering staff at tiny KFTY-TV in Santa Rosa there will be less local coverage. The Clear Channel executive overseeing the station knows there won’t be reporters to investigate local scandals, let alone do those fluffy woman-turns-100 features that make TV anchors cock their heads and smile at the end of a newscast.

But Spendlove said that the station’s “business model” hadn’t been working for years, and that “covering one-eighth of the Bay Area” is neither a moneymaker nor even an operation large enough to be measured by Nielsen ratings.

So the next step in Channel 50’s evolution will be a nationally watched experiment in local television coverage. Over the next few months, the station’s management plans to ask people in the community — its independent filmmakers, its college students and professors, its civic leaders and others — to provide programming for the station.

Is this citizen journalism, or just asking consumers to produce their own content for free? It’s both really, and it should be viewed as an evolving situation that is more and more common. If the consumers are the producers, ultimately this is a good thing. In the early days of punk there was a breakdown between audience and performer, and it was liberating. Of course, in the end it’s quality that counts, and that remains to be scene

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