While compiling FOI Friday this week, I spotted this story on Blottr: Over 40,000 weapons seized at courts in Birmingham.
Blottr describes itself as ‘the people-powered news service.’ It’s a way for ‘citizen journalists’ – I stick the phrase in quote marks because I’m never sure how many people would consider themselves to be citizen journalists – to get their stories out to an audience on an established network.
The story stood out for me for one reason – a confused policy towards crediting sources. The picture at the top of the story carries a picture credit at the bottom of the article. The source of the story – the front page of the Birmingham Mail that day – does not get a credit.
It was a reporter for the paper’s FOI request which led to the story making the front page.
It isn’t the only story on Blottr’s Birmingham page to have appeared on the site after appearing in the Birmingham Mail. Newspaper newsrooms are used to that – after all, the BBC have been doing it for years.
But if you advocate crediting for pictures – and indeed, birminghammail.net gets picture credits on the site – then surely you should credit the source of a story too.
Hyperlocal sites up and down the country have shown that the ability for anyone to publish news can lead to a richer sharing of content and information, providing material and coverage of events and stories which wouldn’t get covered elsewhere.
They know there’s a difference between volume of content and content which stands out. It’s a lesson the minority of sites which do seem follow the lead of the local newspaper – to put it politely – could do with learning.
It’s therefore a shame that a ‘citizen journalism news service’ appears to be not so much powered by the people, as powered by the local newspaper.
It feels like an opportunity missed.