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BY PETER SCHROEDER
Members are encouraged to write about issues and topics. Views expressed do not represent the opinion or endorsement of OWAA, its staff, officers, directors or members. Opposing views are encouraged, as OWAA desires to create a forum for the exchange of ideas. Send commentary to email@example.com.
Blogs, tweets, podcasts, YouTube videos — today, many “citizen journalists” use online social media to comment about the outdoors. The impact and credibility of these individuals can be significant — many are followed by thousands of people with whom they share their interests. Outdoor enthusiasts no longer depend exclusively on newspaper columnists, magazine writers or TV anchor people. The advice of the expert authority has been replaced by the collective wisdom of the crowd.
OWAA faces a challenge: how do we integrate citizen journalists into our organization? At the moment we do not have a membership category that fits these people working in the new media.
Here are some ideas that have been adopted by other writers groups facing this same issue. OWAA could establish a citizen journalist membership category that requires applicants to meet any four of the following five benchmarks:
1) Minimum one year of blogging, posting videos (on YouTube, Vimeo or a similar platform) online reporting, etc. on a social media website that allows response and feedback;
2) Income from a source other than PR firms, advertising agencies or commercial organizations.
3) Minimum two online written, audio, or visual updates per month (in season) that are editorial, not advertorial; redistribution of press releases does not qualify.
4) Minimum 500 page-views/hits per month, and must allow response feedback on the site.
5) Applicant must be responsible only for editorial content of a website and may not be involved in the selling of advertising.
Are these criteria broad enough, too restrictive, or incomplete?♦
— Peter Schroeder is a freelance writer and photographer. He specializes in recreational boating, cruising under sail, scuba diving, snow skiing, and worldwide adventure travel. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.