Library of Congress

Digital Preservation

The Library of Congress > Digital Preservation > News Archive > Preserving Citizen Journalism and Community News

December 2, 2010 -- The number of local and regional newspapers and independent media outlets are shrinking. At the same time, there is a rise in new, Web-based journalism and news sites. Many of these sites include hyperlocal community news, blog aggregators, social media and user generated reporting. Will these new forms of community news have value in the future? Should libraries and archives preserve them much like newspapers and other traditional news sources?

The National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program organized a two-day workshop, November 3-4, 2010 in Washington, DC, to discuss these issues. The meeting brought together 45 researchers, bloggers, journalists, academics and archivists to address selection and preservation issues concerning community, hyperlocal and citizen journalism and aggregators of news. The meeting built upon discussions at last year’s Preserving Digital News meeting.

Prior to the meeting, participants were asked to answer three questions:

  • What are the most significant new forms of news, journalism and reporting that you see in the current Web landscape? Which ones are of potential long-term value for research, education and cultural purposes and why?
  • What trends do you see in community, hyperlocal and citizen journalism that you anticipate will have significant impact in the near and mid–term (5-10 years)?
  • Describe briefly how your consumption of news has changed in the past 5 years. As a rule, where to you turn to for news—local, national, international and among professional colleagues?

Results of this informal survey were presented at the meeting in order to help launch the discussion.

Screenshot from Eyes & Ears.

Screenshot from Eyes & Ears. E&E is the Huffington Post's citizen journalism unit -- a community of writers, researchers, and multimedia journalists committed to generating ground-level reporting and public interest investigations.

Meeting participants attempted to define the nature of hyper-local and community news on the Web. Dan Gillmor from the Knight Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship (external link) presented an overview of the current landscape.  Representatives from the Huffington Post Eyes and Ears (external link), Scripting News (external link), Reinventing the Newsroom (external link), (external link), then followed up to talk about their experiences in the creating of this type of content.

Participants also discussed potential future research use and external environment, and roles and responsibilities for research institutions and libraries. Presentations from the University of British Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, The Bassetti Foundation, Ohio State University, Library of Congress and the University of Illinois’ Cline Center for Democracy helped frame the discussion.

At the end of the meeting, participants suggested concrete next steps to address this emerging area of news. Ideas included documenting existing best practices, providing mechanisms for participation and tools to support archiving, and establishing a partnership network for future work.

Participants Dan Gillmor (external link), Christopher Grotke (external link) and Devon Akmon (external link) shared their perspectives on the Web after the meeting.