Stations Open Up Newsrooms to Viewer Contributions

By Andrew Gauthier 

Broadcasting & Cable

While the typical station story meeting has six or eight people present to pitch ideas, WITI Milwaukee might have 60 or 80 at its daily 1:45 confab. That’s because WITI opens up the editorial meeting to the public through live blogging and a live video stream, along with a Web program that allows users to toss in story ideas while commenting on others.

Launching “Community Eye” earlier this year, WITI implores users to take part in the meeting on the homepage, and uses its Twitter account to do the same for its almost 5,400 followers. “Viewers like to be part of the process,” says WITI VP/General Manager Chuck Steinmetz. “We’re all part of the community, and we’re trying to find stories that are important to the community.”

Steinmetz says several user-generated pitches have made it to air. Community Eye’s popularity comes at a time when the media are increasingly tapping consumers to be part of the newsgathering process. Stations harvest user-generated content (UGC) through initiatives such as Hearst’s “u local,” Broadcast Interactive Media’s YouNews, and the “See It, Snap It, Send It” function at several Raycom stations. Last year, KATV Little Rock trained a Webcam on general-assignment reporter Kristin Fisher and asked viewers for their input on story ideas with “Choose Your News.”More…