The Benefits of Democratizing Journalism

Editor’s note: This story is part of a three-part series on reinventing journalism in the mobile age. Part 1 looked at the “fake news” problem and how we protect freedom of the press in a post-truth world. Part 2 examines how mobile-first newsrooms can solve the news business problem.

Too much local news coverage today is quick, one-hit reporting — parachute journalism. The stories lack true substance about what neighborhoods and communities represent. We want to showcase the value of journalism, create a local pipeline for seldom-heard voices to be heard and overlooked stories to be told in an authentic, comprehensive way.

Creating a mobile-first newsroom expands the reporting capabilities of journalists. Engaging the community expands the size of the local publisher’s newsroom at a fraction of the costs. Combining traditional journalism with emerging mobile technologies gives community members the tools they need to do good journalism and contribute to the narrative of their community. The result is more balanced news coverage, better-informed citizens, and new ways to engage community members.

With journalists and community members collaborating, we can redefine local news reporting and reinvent the journalism business.

The current media model is not optimized for the mobile age. Our mobile-first newsroom approach can be replicated, enabling more coverage by more voices.

Local news publishers have a great opportunity to fill the gap in coverage left by mainstream corporate media.

“Corporate America is owned by large, multinational corporations, whose job is not to propagate truth or to educate, but to make as much money as they can,” Bernie Sanders said in a recent speech to college students at the University of California, Berkeley. “We have got to demand that corporate media start talking about the real issues impacting the lives of the American people. Now, I’m not overly optimistic that that will happen, because there are such inbred conflicts of interest. Figure out a way that you can demand corporate media talk about the real issues. Allow progressive voices to be heard.”

Local news publishers can lead the way with innovative journalism approaches, covering issues that are important to their communities and leveraging the power of the community in the reporting process. We want to be part of helping make that possible.

We have the technology to power mobile-first newsrooms with our all-in-one app for journalism called Evrybit. We streamline mobile reporting and storytelling with audio, video, photos and text in real time. Content can be distributed through the app or on websites. We are working to simplify media monetization, collaboration and notifications. Through community workshops, we have designed a core mobile-first newsroom training program curriculum.

We have run several projects with local news publishers and college journalism programs.
In 2015, Evrybit teamed up with 100 New York University journalism students to report live from New York’s streets during the visit of Pope Francis, showing the power of collaborative reporting in one story.

San Angelo Live, a local news site in central Texas, has covered Texas high school football games and community events. We are exploring ways to monetize the content.

We partnered with college journalism schools and students again to cover Election Day 2016.

Truthdig has been covering the #NoDAPL demonstrations at Standing Rock in North Dakota.
All of these projects scratch the surface of possibilities with mobile production, distribution and monetization.

What’s Next?

We have more projects in the works with local publishers and college journalism programs. Our goal is to create a fast, profitable model for mobile-first newsrooms that can be replicated by any local news publisher. We will be sharing our progress and results with the public on a frequent basis, so anyone can benefit from what we learn.

What If I’m a Journalist, and I Despise the Audience?

It’s simple: Adapt or die. The days of being a media gatekeeper are over. Approach journalism with an egalitarian mindset or get comfortable doing PR.

I’m Not a Journalist. Why Should I Care?

The fate of the world is at stake. That’s all. Everyone with a conscience has a responsibility to ensure life on earth continues and gets better for future generations. Journalism can help. You can help. Together, journalists and community members can make a difference.

Let’s Collaborate.

We need the Fourth Estate to hold power accountable and keep people informed. Professional journalists alone cannot do the job. We need the people — you and your community — to help revive journalism and restore its credibility. As American political theorist Sheldon Wolin argues in “Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism,” democracy’s best hope is citizens exercising power at the local level.

When people join together and mobilize for a worthy cause, powerful things can happen. Look at the water and land protectors at Standing Rock, whose fight against construction of the Dakota Access pipeline continues. Look at the Injustice Boycott, which is standing up against racial injustice and police brutality in the United States.

Now is the time to be journalism protectors and defenders of the First Amendment.
The stand (to reinvent democracy) begins with mobile-first newsrooms. We can create a global network of community news channels and spark a journalism revolution.

This revolution will not be televised.

It will be Evrybit.

Are you a local news publisher? Are you a smartphone user? Would you like to build a mobile-first newsroom in your community? We want to hear from you. Contact us at info@getevrybit.com.

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