I see that Johnnic is launching what could be described as a blogging site, reporter.co.za. It’s being given a different spin to the other local alternative, the Mail and Guardian’s Blogmark (recently rebranded from Blogspot). Instead of aiming to be a blog, with all the attendant low-quality noise associated with the term, it’s aiming at citizen journalism. And they’re paying a nominal fee for everything that gets published. R35 for gold stories that appear on the front page, R20 for silver articles that appear at the top of the section pages, and R15 for bronze, everything else they accept.
It’s an intriguing idea. With the editors rejecting gumph, the quality may be quite good.
There’s a catch though. Contributors give Johnnic the right to publish any of the accepted articles. So for the princely sum of R35, Johnnic could have a front page lead for the Sunday Times. For this reason, its unlikely that any established journalists will be using the site. Blogmark, by contrast, does have some high quality nuggets if you look hard enough.
For Johnnic, it’s a smart move. They have a great way to identify budding journalists with potential, and may even get cheap content for their publications. For budding journalists, it’s a means to get exposure, and have their work evaluated. Having an article achieve front page status (or more realistically, publication) has its own rewards, so contributors shouldn’t feel too hard done by the limited fee if it brings about the launch of their career.
The only risk for Johnnic, and its a nominal one, is that they receive little high-quality content, and are forced to publish nonsense like my opinion of Anti-American rhetoric while on the wine route.
The site officially launches on January 9th. I’ll be watching with interest to see whether it will attract the high quality content it needs to succeed. With the dearth of quality journalism in this country, we certainly need initiatives like this.