Steve Outing has for years been sounding a reasonable, practical tone in striving for strong journalism in realistic economic conditions in his writing for Editor & Publisher. It should come as no surprise that, in weighing in on the direction of newsrooms, Outing is recognizing the days of mini-vans arriving with new personnel seem done for the time being. But he sees a viable, positive option in developing a professional-amateur model of journalism, tapping into expertise and enthusiasm in communities of interest to complement the work of the full-time professionals.
Outing notes that the first wave of so-called citizen journalism might have foundered, but he notes that version 2.0 can enlist vigorous, intense expertise in markets for niche sites to add to the work of newsroom journalists.
A number of newsrooms have done this with blogs, but Outing is suggesting something more active and involved. In the same way journalism has used freelancers to fill roles to serve audiences, this appears to be an obvious route to better results.