Neighbourhood news now hot in Amsterdam as well
24 January 2007 - Newspaper Het Parool wants
to pay more attention to news from the districts and is recruiting
a number of neighbourhood reporters. Before the end of this month,
news website Nu.nl plans to launch a site Hier.nl, where Amsterdammers
can publish their own news reports.
Originally, Hier.nl was to be launched last December. “We
are still working on the last bug fixes, we want to have the site
in the air by the end of the month”, product manager Jesse
Burkunk explains. He is discussing plans with local television channel
At5 for future collaboration. For example, the channel might make
reports on the basis of stories published at Hier.nl by visitors
of the site.
Earlier this month, newspaper Trouw also launched a website with
regional news. The content is to be provided by professional journalists
as well as regular citizens. “In order to create a news supply
that includes both larger news items (‘Central Station in
Amsterdam evacuated because of storm’) and smaller ones (‘Amateur
theatre group to perform at community centre’)”, the
Examples like YouTube, a website at which visitors can publish
videos, illustrate how visitors of websites are increasingly encouraged
to contribute their own content. The initiatives of Trouw and Nu.nl
are part of that trend. Like Trouw and Nu.nl, Skoops.nl also uses
so-called ‘citizen journalists’.
Newspapers Het Parool and de Telegraaf have no plans yet to use
regular Amsterdammers as journalists. Het Parool does want to respond
faster and in a better way to news from the districts. However,
it is recruiting professional journalists for that task, who will
work on a freelance basis for the newspaper. Readers should be able
to notice the difference ‘as soon as possible’, editor
Nathan Vos said.
Even though citizen journalism is becoming a hype, there is criticism
as well. “Of course there are constantly people who witness
situations that are newsworthy. If they pick up their laptop and
make their report generally accessible, all the better”, wrote
Dutch ‘journalist of the century’ H.J.A. Hofland last
year. However, he is concerned whether independent and professional
journalism will gain a foothold on the internet.
He refers to the situation in America: “There are twelve
million bloggers there, a third of whom consider themselves journalists.
Blogging is a hype”. Incidentally, for now, Trouw will have
professional journalists judge all contributions from citizen journalists.
Hier.nl does not have the ambition to become a genuine news website:
“I think that people who visit Hier.nl understand that it
is so-called citizen journalism and if people really want to know
what is going on, they can find this at real news websites”,
Saskia Ploeg of the Amsterdam Zeeburg.nu website finds that established
news media look down upon local news and websites that bring such
news. She points to the incident of the so-called race riots in
Zeeburg after there had been a stabbing last summer.
Reports first suggested that a small number of youth had been involved
in a fight, but soon this developed into riots that would have involved
hundreds of young people. Ploeg questioned these reports at Zeeburg.nu:
“This juggling with numbers has highly surprised me”.
In a TV-programme about the issue, columnist Elsbeth Etty quite
uncritically defended the professional journalist ‘who has
no interest but to write down what he observes’. She suggested
that Ploeg would have had an interest in downplaying the seriousness
of the incident.
News from Amsterdam will soon publish an investigation into
the effectiveness of neighbourhood websites. Examples of such websites
can be found here. Photo: Zeeburg
after the stabbing (source Zeeburg.nu).
Want to receive News from Amsterdam?