WSJ.com - News Sites Solicit Articles
Straight From Readers
Newspapers seek to find ways to stem the losses
"At the Greensboro News & Record's Web site, registered users can submit their own stories by clicking on a link. An editor gathers submissions, makes a few small edits, then publishes the articles online -- sometimes within hours. Among recent stories written by readers: a feature on an upcoming cotton-mill convention and a primer on Social-Security reform.
The Northwest Voice, from the publisher of the Bakersfield Californian newspaper, includes news articles and photographs submitted by readers.
In the past year, a handful of small newspapers have launched variations on that model. Newspaper publishers are eager to find new ways to connect to readers -- daily newspaper circulation dropped 11% between 1990 and 2003, according to Editor & Publisher magazine. Now, as do-it-yourself Web publishing tools are making it easier for laypeople to create blogs, newspapers are borrowing ideas from those informal Web journals in an effort to make their own coverage more accessible, and, they hope, attract more readers.
"If they didn't host these conversations, they would still occur outside the confines of the news organization," says Al Tompkins, an online-journalism professor at the Poynter Institute, a nonprofit training center for journalists in St. Petersburg, Fla. "It's much smarter for us to be somehow involved in this."
Maybe patterns to NYTimes buy of About.com
Local newspapers have long accepted submissions from readers, but they typically come in the form of letters to the opinion page or society columns about goings-on about town. The sites are betting the new approach will help them uncover feature stories that residents find interesting, but that their staff reporters are unlikely to write about.
"A newspaper staff has no monopoly on knowledge," says blogger Dan Gillmor, a former San Jose Mercury News columnist who has been a vocal advocate for what he calls grassroots journalism. "In fact, every reporter should realize that, collectively, the readers know more than they do about what they write about."
And so the story evolves.
Migration from ink to displays, along with decentralization of information and opinion.
Aside : It's Annual Paper Week