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NY Times expands citizen journalism

Website embraces amateur content

The New York Times plans to add capabilities to the website of its flagship newspaper so that readers can submit more content to it, such as photos and reports from the field.

"You'll see more citizen journalism" on NYT.com, said Arthur Sulzberger, Jr, publisher of The New York Times, during the Web 2.0 Conference in San Francisco. His comments came after an audience member said NYT.com trails websites from other newspapers in this area of user-generated content.

"You can argue we've been slow, and I disagree," he said, adding that it's difficult to strike a balance between accepting contributions from amateurs and upholding the editorial quality standards of the newspaper. He hinted that NYT.com will screen these "citizen journalists" and work with a group it feels comfortable with and trusts.

Meanwhile, Barry Diller, chairman and chief executive officer of IAC/InterActiveCorp, who also participated in the panel, said that user-generated content has its place in his company's websites, but that it's wrong to believe that amateurs will be able to produce professional-quality, narrative programming.

IAC will invest in creating content with high production values for its websites, tapping professionals for the job, as Diller is convinced that online video technology is now mature enough to justify the cost and effort to develop this type of programming for the web.

Asked by conference chair John Battelle about The New York Times' decision to charge for some of the website's content, Sulzberger defended it, saying that quality journalism is expensive to produce.

Along those lines, he said the website is a sound business. Only the printed editions of The New York Times and The Boston Globe generate more revenue than NYT.com and its fee-based TimesSelect service, he said.


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