The Sudbury Star (an
Osprey Quebecor paper) is launching a new user-generated web portal, lamely called "UR Sudbury". As they describe it, it's a "supernova" of journalism, taking advantage of "citizen media" to expand the newspapers' coverage and bring the community together.
But to media critics, it sounds like the Star is telling the community to "do it yourself."
It's another example of what happens when media managers read about "Web 2.0" from marketing books and fail to get what it's all about. They miss that whole part about building a community and get right to the part about "crowdsourcing" and how that's going to save them money.
But crowdsourcing journalism abandons the very strengths mainstream media have: fairness, reliability, fact-checking, sound news judgment and professionalism. It's not so much a problem with community event listings or stories about grandma's 100th birthday, but once it starts moving into the area of real news -- even local news -- then it's attaching the paper's name to anonymous postings on a web forum.
Right now, UR Sudbury isn't a "supernova" or a revolution. It's a badly-designed Craigslist.