By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Citizen journalism on the air

A small television station in Santa Rosa, Calif., has eliminated most of its news staff and will replace its evening newscasts with contributions from citizen journalists. The station, KFTY-TV, is owned by Clear Channel. Thus, this has all the makings of a profit-driven fiasco — a perversion of the promise of citizen journalism.

But you know what? Clear Channel’s bottom-line-driven motivation aside, this might prove worthwhile. As the ironically named station executive Steve Spendlove is quoted as saying, “There will be a loss in local coverage, I’m not going to lie to you. But there are a lot of other places to get most of that information.”

It’s hard to tell from this Wikipedia entry how well-served the Santa Rosa area is. But assuming that residents still have two or three local newscasts from which to choose, having another outlet doing something completely different strikes me as something well worth trying.

Here is another story on the Santa Rosa situation. And here is the KFTY Web site.

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  1. Danny L. McDaniel

    Dan-Give it a chance. there are plenity of reporter/journalist wannabes out their that might to a pretty good. I believe that it is a fade that doesn’t have staying power like some “professionals” think. Overall, I have read and seen some pretty good work by “citizens journalists.” After all that is what professional journalists write about.Santa Rosa, California is pretty big media center. It is very professional and a beautiful town.

  2. Brian Maloney

    Santa Rosa is so close to the Bay Area that it’s hard to maintain a market-specific media presence. Competing with San Francisco’s big-time TV news budgets is very difficult. They’ve done the best they could for a long time.

  3. Anonymous

    great, everybody wants to do what I get paid to do for free. I think I’ll start going door to door and offering free plumbing or electrical work, even though I’m not qualified to work in those fields, just because it seems like fun.

  4. Todd

    Brian is right. Santa Rosa is a bit like Worcester, which doesn’t have its own local TV newscasts (I think). Incidentally, the local newspaper, the Press Democrat, is owned by the New York Times Co. and has a good reputation for covering the area.

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