Albany, Ga - Have you ever dreamed about being a journalist? Did you watch All the President’s Men and wonder if you could do that? Well, The Albany Journal is announcing that you can!
“My background is as a citizen journalist, a blogger specifically. A lot of people want to write, but they don’t want to run a blog necessarily. What are those folks supposed to do?” asked Journal publisher Tom Knighton. “That’s why we’re launching the citizen journalist initiative.”
The initiative, as Knighton describes it, is about giving the citizens of Southwest Georgia an opportunity to see the stories that matter to them in print. “There are a ton of great stories out there, and we just don’t have the resources to cover all of them. However, if the people of Southwest Georgia write the stories and take the photos, I know we have the resources to edit and run them,” Knighton said.
Knighton says that while this is open to anyone who wants to write a story, he doesn’t feel that this will reduce journalistic quality in the region. “Just because you open it up to other folks, doesn’t mean that objectivity goes out the window. In fact, that’s a requirement for any submission that’s not just a letter to the editor. Opinion has its place, but not in a regular news report or a feature article,” Knighton said.
In addition to objectivity, Knighton says that the writing should adhere to the basic rules of grammar, using correct spelling, punctuation, and capitalization. “I’ve gotten submissions for letters to the editor where I had to spend hours just trying to decipher what the writer was saying, and then all but rewriting it for publication. That needs to be avoided,” Knighton said.
Knighton said he feels that some folks may not feel they write well enough for publication, but he points out that as long as the grammar is correct enough, and that the piece is written objectively enough, he and his small staff are more than willing to work with style. “A lot of writing isn’t necessarily talent. While having it can help, anyone can be taught to write a solid news story,” he said.
Those wishing to write a story should email their submission to firstname.lastname@example.org, along with their name and hometown. “We want to give these citizen journalists bylines. We’re not giving money, so we want to give as much recognition as humanly possible,” Knighton said.
Will this lead to other opportunities for those who submit regularly? “Absolutely,” Knighton said, adding, “That’s how I started out. If we find someone who has a good grasp on what they’re doing, we can move them into something a bit more regular. Who knows, some of these folks might find themselves on the payroll in the future.”