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Print journalism is in a tailspin. Embracing the Web is the obvious solution, but how is that best done? Lex Alexander, who spearheaded a well-regarded new media effort at the Greensboro, NC, News & Record, offers these tips. Notice that a few start with the word “invest,” which is counter to much recent industry wisdom.

Life is tough for the newspaper industry these days, and survival is not assured. Whatever strategy a newspaper takes, one thing is for sure: They need to keep costs low. Yet newspapers still need to compile compelling content that can engage their reading communities. Social media can help a great deal in solving this problem. Here are seven attention points which could help to increase content production while staying cost effective.

It’s true that when it comes to news, there’s a tension between being first and being right. The daily print cycle means that there used to be time for editors and reporters to discuss the way a story should be framed, to check the fact, look for additional sources, before anyone outside the newsroom even heard about it.

As I said in a podcast a few days ago, since the beginning of my career in the early 80s, I’ve been meeting with people in the news industry to try to play a role in its transition to an electronic medium. But that’s only half of it, the easy half. The hard half: I want to be a reporter, but a new kind of reporter. Instead of one of the few, I want to be one of the millions. And I want technology to find a way to do what reporters of the 20th century used to do, to organize all the information from what they used to call “sources” into reports that people like you and me can read and think about and discuss.

The possibilities for using Twitter in journalism are endless – but it doesn’t seem that an effective method has been perfected just yet.   Positive aspects include the ability to pick up on hot topics by checking the most talked about tags, the range of perspectives available, and the ability to break news instantly.  The recent Tweeting trend amongst politicians to communicate directly with the public means that their feeds have become an essential point of reference with Barack Obama at the front of the field in this respect.

Citizen journalism is a gift to journalism, professional journalists and people all over the world.

It’s an army of active citizens who want to report about the world around them — for free. They can cover far more ground than professional journalists and can provide coverage of events as they happen in real time — not afterwards.

As a reporter you can’t be everywhere, but billions of people are everywhere.

That’s the power of citizen journalism.


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