hyperlocal 101: Should journalists edit community correspondents?

An interesting post for local news journalists and editors in particular on whether reports, articles and posts submitted by “community correspondents” and readers should be substantially edited before publication. Shields Bialasik, who has experience of running a hyperlocal newspaper in the US called LocalsGuide, says he asks for all submissions for sites, such as blogs and hyperlocal sites run by larger news groups, to be ready for publication in terms of format and readability.

(Putting the issue of legal checks to one side for the moment) Bialasik explains why he holds back from editing:

My job as I see it as the owner of the media machine is to deliver the message. Similar to the job of the post office. I deliver the mail, not open it up along the way, change the message and then deliver it.

Yet, if you take some time to think about this you will realise this is exactly what is occurring with practically all mainstream media. Who’s [sic] voice is really being heard, who’s [sic] point of view are we really being convinced of or represented?

Full post at this link…

2 thoughts on “hyperlocal 101: Should journalists edit community correspondents?

  1. Paul Keers

    Interesting that he sees no need to edit for spelling or grammar then, despite the fact that such errors may hinder communication, and potentially embarrass the correspondent. Doubly interesting when he confuses “who’s” and “whose” in his second para…

  2. Jo Wadsworth

    Funnily enough, I read this just after editing about a dozen stories from our community correspondents . . .

    I agree with Bialasik when he says that it’s not our job to change the message. However, as Keers seems to be saying, I don’t see any harm editing for grammar, etc. It’s perfectly possible to change, for instance, the council say to the council says without harming the meaning. In some cases, I’ll call up the correspondent and suggest that I do a more thorough editing job – and this has always been eagerly accepted (so far . . .)

    I can’t imagine anyone being angry with me for doing so, quite the opposite. In fact, I see it as part of developing the engagement which Bialasik advocates – by sharing my editing skills to help my correspondents get their message across.

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