Archant citizen journalism website scoops front page

Citizen journalism website iwitness24 has generated front page news in the Norwich Evening News and Stevenage Comet, after Archant launched the platform in January.

Richard Willner, who is responsible for the iwitness24 site, said: 'Iwitness24 has already delivered some cracking news stories. We've had front pages on the Norwich Evening News and Stevenage Comet, thanks to the iwitness24 platform, and plenty of online pieces and photo galleries.'

Willner was speaking to Press Gazette following a survey by Kantar Media's Global TGI Net which suggested only 12 percent of British internet users submit articles and comment to online newspapers.

In response to Kantar's findings, Willner said: 'I think those general figures would be similar to our own if we were looking at our newspaper websites before the launch of iwitness24. It's the nature of the internet – users like to browse but not necessarily get involved.

'However, Archant's audience is really taking to iwitness24, largely because of the ease of use of the platform. On the Norfolk site alone, we now have more than 1,000 members – in less than three months after launching – and content is being shared every hour of the day.'

Archant launched the 'community news platform'two weeks after the company announced 14 jobs would be axed at its Suffolk division when it scraps the Saturday edition of the Ipswich Evening Star. This figure has since been reduced to nine jobs being cut.

Responding to Kantar's research, Ravin Sampat, editor of user-generated news website Blottr, said: "Suffice to say, user generated article submission is low in the UK, but you will find that collaborative content is higher. If you look at the reports of the England riots, for example, the majority of content was user generated.

'User generated content is certainly on the rise in the UK, and with the increased awareness from readers that they're within their right to discover and report stories on to platforms like Blottr, you will see a dramatic rise to user generated content."

Demotix is a newswire that posts photographs and videos from citizens and freelance journalists around the world. Chief executive, Turi Munthe, said the amount of useful citizen journalism in Britain was probably less than 12 percent.

Munthe said: 'It depends on the user generated content – it can be posting Facebook pictures or blogging for open democracy (which is highly sophisticated) – the key thing is what bits of UGC are interesting. Very few people are engaged in this. People producing material that is of value is a tiny fraction. Useful, journalistic content is around 1-2 percent globally, slightly more in Britain."

He added that citizen journalism was still an integral part of the news-making process and Demotix had a very self-selecting process.

Global TGI Net's study was based on a sample of 152,000 adults from Great Britain, Germany, Spain, France, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and UAE.

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