Monday, 19 October 2009

Journalism Flash Forward: Could the Guardian's 'beat blogging' posts be the future of journalism

The Guardian group announced three new journalism vacancies last week.  Headline news in itself these days.

But with these new 'beat blogger' positions, the Guardian has unveiled what could very well be the future of journalism.

The job description reads:

The Guardian is launching an initiative in Edinburgh [Leeds and Cardiff] and would like to recruit a blogger interested in creating and curating local multimedia content (text, photographs, audio and video) for their city.The successful candidate will be a confident blogger, know their yelps from their tweets, have a passion for local news and understand how to build relationships with the local community. A journalism qualification is desirable but not essential.Working from your home, or anywhere with WiFi, as a ‘beatblogger’ you will lead the Guardian’s innovative approach to community news coverage in Edinburgh.This will include reporting on local meetings and events with an emphasis on local political decision making, identifying issues of importance to local residents and signposting information and news provided via other sources. You will be willing to collaborate with others to create a vital resource for the city.
This is a completely new role for the Guardian, which we believe reflects the shifting nature of journalism. Bloggers with open minds and a willingness to embrace new working methods can find more information, via the link below...
The Guardian are the first to take the steps into a future journalism business model which could be emulated throughout the country and beyond.

A model in which the majority, if not all reporters could be freelance beat bloggers. They live and work in the community with no ties to any office - have laptop, will travel. These beat bloggers provide the multimedia content (text, image, video, audio) onto a blog which in turn sits under the umbrella of a larger media company who sells advertising onto the blog and who cherry picks the best of the content for its core product, be that in print or online. The journalist gets a cut of the advertising revenue depending on the audience his/her content attracts and where that content is used.

The more content the blogger generates, the greater the audience and the greater the revenue share.

If indeed this is how beat blogging journalism develops and it is proven successful, the business model could be emulated across the country and beyond.

What do you think?  A future vision of journalism?

Before you answer, you will want to jump across to Sarah Hartley's blog who answers some of the more immediate questions.

You can also see the full job descriptions for the beatblogger posts in Edinburgh, Cardiff and Leeds.


Louise Bolotin said...

I’m very interested in this development, as both a journalist and a blogger. I live in Manchester where there is a broad range of options for local news. However, some of those options have taken a pounding of late (such as the savage cuts in the spring at the MEN and 22 other local titles owned by GMG. It may only be a matter of time before what's left is cut further. So any new ways of delivering the news are yo be welcomed. They may work, they may not. There's only one way to find out.

Manchester is teeming with local blogs and many of them are really good – passionate, quirky, caring, well written and with a real sense that the bloggers are completely tapped into what is going on around them, whether that’s community development plans or a local campaign for or against something. I'll put money on the pilot cities selected by the Guardian having similarly strong blogging communities. Journalism comes in many shapes and sizes so there's no reason why beatblogging couldn’t become part of local news delivery. I shall be keeping an eye on this development at the Guardian.

Anonymous said...

Potentially a good idea, but I think the devil will be in the detail.

Similar schemes that don't seem to have worked out seem to have involved local papers approaching bloggers and asking them to do quite a demanding and time-consuming job for free and expecting the blogger in question to be grateful for the exposure.

They're then surprised when the blogger, who may be as experienced and knowledgeable as a reporter, is nonplussed by this offer.

Share of ad revenues sounds fairly non-committal. Probably a fun job and a great opportunity, but will it add up financially for the bloggers?