Tuesday, 21 August 2007

Episode 9 - The one where Digitella visits the Times

Digitella and her journalism class were visiting The Times in Joburg for a week - the idea was to produce multimedia packages with The Times online news team. There was a lull on the second day, and Digitella was aware that her blog needed to be updated, so she decided to review the Sunday Times website and its implementation of citizen media. She found a computer in a quiet corner and started writing her blog:

"The slogan of the The Times Online website is 'Interact with us'. In terms of its Web 2.0 applications, The Times is ahead of the rest. RSS feeds, a Facebook group and hyperlocal services such as online competitions, weather forecasts and dating services try bring online users to the site and entice them to stay.

But, what is The Times online doing about the rise of citizen media and just how are they tapping into this ever-increasing phenomenon? Other than a half-hearted link to fellow Johncom colleague Reporter.co.za, there isn't anything on the Times site that encourages user-generated content. Here are just a few ideas on how The Times can exploit the potentiality of their online medium by including content created by users:
  • Citizen blogs - The Times site hosts a number of blogs but they are all either by editors, journalists or well-known print columnists. Offering a blogging option for users who subscribe may be a good way to hear what are on the minds of SA citizens.

  • User photo/ video galleries - The Mail and Guardian has set up a reader's photo gallery where users can submit photographs that they have taken. The Times could incorporate a system similar to this one quite easily.

  • Citizen articles - The Times could set up a section of their website that invites users to submit stories and articles on issues and events that they find relevant. Not only will this allow citizens to have their say, but it could also give Times journalists an idea of what the people they are catering for are actually interested in.

  • By adding a few of these citizen media elements, The Times will be able to truly live up to their slogan - 'Interact with us'"

    Digitella had just finished her blog entry when she was called back to the bustling online newsroom.

    1 comment:

    ntk said...

    I am quite interested to know more about their "Facebook group". What do you mean by this? Do they have a similar social media system to Facebook, or have they somehow linked up to Facebook itself?

    And what does this mean for citizen media (if anything); news organisations linking up with social media systems?