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Study of Community Journalism by the Suburban Newspapers of America Foundation, as Presented by Susan Karol at a Poynter Conference, May 2010

Study of Community Journalism by the Suburban Newspapers of America Foundation, as Presented by Susan Karol at a Poynter Conference, May 2010

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  • 1. Striking a Balance Between Community Journalism and Citizen Participation: A Research Study Funded by a grant from: Conducted by:
  • 2. Users Survey - Allowing User-Generated Content Allowing Users To Generate Content Q4. Do you think the public should be allowed to participate on a newspaper's website such as posting comments on Base: Total Respondents (3,010) stories, articles, opinions, photos, videos, reviews or blogs? The vast majority of respondents say the public should be allowed to participate on a newspaper’s website such as posting comments on stories, opinions, submitting photos and/or videos, providing reviews or blogs. It’s important to point out that each of these respondents is an Internet user who uses a newspaper website at least once a month. Most respondents (73%) visit a newspaper website at least weekly. SNA Foundation 2
  • 3. Users Survey - Allowing User-Generated Content How Should Users Contribute Q5. Please check each of the following ways you think users Base: Respondents Who Believe The Public Should Be should be allowed to participate on a newspaper’s website. (Check all that apply.) Allowed To Participate On Newspaper’s Websites (2,689) Provide comments on stories created by reporters Post opinions Participate in forum discussions Post restaurant reviews Submit stories they’ve written Post information about breaking news events Contribute to youth sports coverage There were no Post photos significant age differences Write blogs in responses Post videos Other Respondents make some distinctions in the type of user-generated information they think should be used on newspaper websites. They want to share their opinions. Significant percentages say users should be allowed to provide comments on stories written by reporters, post opinions, participate in forum discussions and post restaurant reviews. About half say they should be allowed to submit stories they’ve written and post information about breaking news events. There is less support for submitting photos, blogs and videos. SNA Foundation 3
  • 4. Users Survey - Allowing User-Generated Content Primary Benefits Of Allowing User Q8. What do you think are the primary benefits for allowing users Participation of newspaper websites to contribute content online such as commenting on stories, posting articles, photos, videos and/or Base: Participants Who Think The Public Should Be opinions online and submitting blogs? (Please be specific.) Allowed To Participate Or Are Not Sure (2,689) Diversity of opinions/points of view Freedom of speech/expression Additional information to incomplete/emerging stories Encourages participation/ involvement from citizens Combats bias with variety of information Public perspective None/no opinion Not Sure Providing a more diverse point of view along with free expression are the major benefits respondents cite for allowing users to contribute online. Some also say users can contribute information to evolving or breaking stories. SNA Foundation 4
  • 5. Users Survey - Managing User-Generated Content Q11. How important is it that a newspaper website identify or Importance of Labeling Staff and User label which content is created by the professional news staff Content and which content is submitted by citizen users of the Base: Total Respondents (3,010) website? EXTREMELY IMPORTANT 5 4 3 2 NOT IMPORTANT AT ALL 1 NOT SURE The vast majority of newspaper website users say it’s important that a newspaper identify or label which content is created by the professional news staff and which is submitted by users. Seven in 10 (70%) say this is extremely important. (However, as shown later, a majority of respondents also say they can tell the difference between stories written by the citizen contributors and the professional staff.) SNA Foundation 5
  • 6. Users Survey - Managing User-Generated Content Q16. How much do you agree or disagree with each of the Attitudes Toward User-Generated Content following statements using a scale of 5 to 1 where 5 means Base: Total Respondents (3,010) strongly agree and 1 means strongly disagree and using any number in between? Citizens submitting information to a newspaper’s website should be required to register as a user of the site before being able to post Newspapers are responsible for the content on their websites regardless if the information is created by its professional news staff or submitted by average citizens Citizens submitting information to a newspaper’s website should be required to use their real names when posting The poster’s real name should be shown along with his or her submission (Table Continues) The vast majority of users say citizens should be required to register on a newspaper website before posting information, that newspapers are responsible for their online content whether produced by the staff or user generated and that a user should be required to use his or her real name when posting . SNA Foundation 6
  • 7. Users Survey - Managing User-Generated Content Q16. How much do you agree or disagree with each of the Attitudes Toward User-Generated Content, following statements using a scale of 5 to 1 where 5 means continued strongly agree and 1 means strongly disagree and using any Base: Total Respondents (3,010) number in between? Average citizens arriving at the scenes of breaking news should be allowed to post photos and provide accounts of the story directly to the newspapers’ website so information is available more quickly The posting should include the first name only; the last name is not necessary I am more likely to use a newspaper’s website if users can comment on stories on it or post content I am willing to accept some inaccuracies in a story to get more timely information from average citizens at a news scene While still a minority, a significant percentage of respondents (34%) say they are more likely to use a newspaper’s website if they comment on stories or post content. SNA Foundation 7
  • 8. Users Survey - Managing User-Generated Content Q17. When breaking news, such as a major crime, accident, Expectations For Accessing Breaking News fire, etc. occurs in your community, how quickly do you Base: Total Respondents (3,010) expect that information to appear on your local newspaper’s website: (Please check one) Within 15 minutes Within 30 minutes Within one hour Within four hours Within a day Not Sure Newspaper website users have high expectations when it comes to breaking news. One in five expects such news as major crimes, accidents and fires, to appear on their local newspaper website within 15 minutes after they occur. Taken cumulatively, 45 percent want this information within a half hour and 76 percent within one hour. SNA Foundation 8
  • 9. User Content And Newspaper Credibility Q19. How credible would you consider information provided Credibility of Citizen News Coverage by an average citizen at a news scene using a scale of 5 to 1 Base: Total Respondents (3,010) where 5 means very credible and 1 means not credible at all and using any number in between? PERCENT CITING EACH AS CREDIBLE (“5” or “4” rating) EXTREMELY CREDIBLE 5 4 3 2 NOT CREDIBLE AT ALL 1 NOT SURE Users are also split as to the credibility of information provided by average citizens at a news scene. Just under one in five respondents (18%) say this information is credible (a “5” or “4” rating on the 5-point scale used for this question). A slightly larger percentage (27%) say it’s not credible (a “1” or “2” rating). However, the vast majority (52%) are somewhere in between. There are no major differences between age and income groups. SNA Foundation 9
  • 10. Users Survey - Regulating User Content Q42. Do the websites you use post suggestions or “Rules of Most Websites Have “Rules” Engagement” to help regulate behavior by citizen users who Base: Total Respondents (3,010) post content including story comments, articles, opinions, photos, videos, blogs, etc.? PERCENT WHO HAVE “RULES” Most users say websites do post suggestions or “Rules of Engagement” to help regulate behavior by users. One in three, however, aren’t sure. Users who posted content on newspaper websites are slightly more likely than average to say the websites they use have suggestions or “Rules of Engagement.” Older users are least likely. SNA Foundation 10
  • 11. Regulating User Content Q40. How should newspapers deal with users who post How To Police User Comments inappropriate, vulgar or hateful comments on their websites? Base: Total Respondents (3,010) (Please check all that apply.) Immediately terminate the users’ ability to post content Issue a warning and terminate the users’ ability to post after a second incident Offer an online mechanism for users to report inappropriate content Temporarily suspend the users’ ability to post for a specific period of time Let the community of users police inappropriate content themselves instead of the newspaper staff doing it Nothing, users should be allowed to post whatever they want Remove/delete Other None Almost six in 10 respondents say the newspaper should immediately terminate the users’ ability to post on the website. Four in 10 (40%) suggest a single warning. There is also support for an online mechanism to report inappropriate content. SNA Foundation 11
  • 12. Users Survey - Managing User-Generated Content Q20. How strongly do you agree or disagree with each of the The Affect of “Citizen Participation” following statements using a scale of 5 to 1 where 5 means Base: Total Respondents (3,010) strongly agree and 1 means strongly disagree and using any number in between? When looking on a newspaper website I can tell the difference between stories written by the newspaper staff and content submitted by average citizens A newspaper's overall journalistic integrity is compromised if average citizens are allowed to participate on the newspaper's website A newspaper's credibility is compromised if average citizens are allowed to participate on the newspaper's website As stated previously, a majority of newspaper website users (56%) agree they can tell the difference between stories written by the newspaper staff and content submitted to a website by average citizens (a “5” or “4” rating on this scale). Smaller percentages agree that a newspaper’s overall journalistic integrity is compromised by allowing citizens to generate content (29%) and that a newspaper’s credibility is compromised (27%). In fact, more users disagree with those statements than agree. SNA Foundation 12
  • 13. Users Survey - Regulating User Content Q44. Some people are concerned about allowing average Standards Higher For Newspaper citizens to post stories, comments, opinions, etc. on Websites? newspaper websites saying the public expects higher Base: Total Respondents (3,010) journalistic standards when visiting a newspaper website. Do you agree or disagree with this concern? Agree There are few demographic differences in responses. Men are slightly more likely to Disagree disagree than women. Curiously, older adults (55+) are slightly more likely to disagree than younger adults (especially 18-34) Not Sure Respondents are somewhat split whether the public expects higher journalistic standards when visiting a newspaper website. While almost half agree (45%), 34 percent disagree and 21 percent aren’t sure. SNA Foundation 13
  • 14. Users Survey - Managing User-Generated Content Q18. Do you think expectations for newspaper websites vary Expectations Vary Slightly By Newspaper by the size of the newspaper? For example, how acceptable Size is each of the following, using a scale of 5 to 1 where 5 Base: Total Respondents (3,010) means very acceptable and 1 means not acceptable at all and using any number in between. Citizens contributing comments, photos, opinions, etc. on smaller community daily or weekly newspaper websites Citizens contributing comments, photos, opinions, etc. on large metropolitan daily newspaper websites Users have slightly different expectations for large and small newspapers. More than half (59%) say it’s acceptable for smaller community daily or weekly newspaper websites to use user-generated content. A smaller percentage (44%) say that’s acceptable for large metros. SNA Foundation 14
  • 15. Free download of the full study at www.snafoundation.org Susan Karol, Ph.D. Executive Director, SNA Foundation susan.karol@suburban-news.org Study funded by a grant from Study conducted by: 15