The first in the series is Benoît Raphaël, editor-in-chief of LePost.fr, a pro-am news website and subsidiary of Le Monde. The original article written by Marek Miller, who will be blogging from the conference, can be read on the forum4editors site. You can follow Marek on Twitter on @Marek_Miller and @forum4editors.
[forum4editors] LePost.fr is a sub-brand of Le Monde. What differentiates this project from others based on citizen journalism? What is Le Post all about?
At Le Post, a journalist is, at the same time, a news producer, an aggregator and a community organiser. Because of the way he approaches information, he is first a network journalist. He checks first what has been said and published in other media. He aggregates the best content from different sources, including blogs, Twitter, YouTube and traditional media.
Then, on some topics, he brings in complementary
information, new elements, adds value and fact checks - including news
published by other journalists.
The information is a permanent conversation that is built step-by-step by the community and the journalists.
Each journalist is also in charge of a small group of active amateurs. He is their coach and teaches them the basics of the journalist's job; he tries to encourage them and even meets them in person. He understands that information is a conversation. He does not produce an article, but more a process.
How popular is Le Post in France?
After two years, its traffic is about 2.5 million unique visitors (according to Nielsen) a month.
Users (communities), invited bloggers and journalists.
All the content is filtered, a posteriori, by a team of moderators. We want to make sure that there is no illegal content, that amateurs follow our guidelines and that they are not propagating rumors. Then, the newsroom also looks at it. Each journalist is specialised and manages a small community of amateurs that he trusts. So each interesting item that we receive is checked according to our techniques of 'fast fact checking' that we have developed.The problem with Twitter and social media services is that there is a very low percentage of users actually producing content. It is said that from 100 Twitter users, only one creates content, 10 reply and the rest follow in silence.
Le Post is a mixture of amateur and professional content. How active are users? Where do you take professional content from?
Two per cent of readers produce content (8,000 comments a day, 500 posts a day).
We publish 500 amateur articles a day versus 40 from professional journalists. But the newsroom also takes advantage of the community, reacts to what it is sending in and checks and updates information. The majority of the articles that appear on the homepage (around 70 a day) are a mix of professional and amateur. In fact, our goal is to co-produce the content, not to have on one side the professional and on the other side the amateur.
What makes reader-generated content more attractive than that generated by professional journalists?
Active amateurs help us to collect and add value to information by proposing smart angles, aggregating, finding witnesses etc. They are also 'the eyes of the newsroom'. They are following the news for us, on print, TV, radio, news sites, but also blogs. They send us valuable links with quotes and, sometimes, they help us fact check.
It was because of an amateur that we were able to figure out that a video about Gaza was a fraud. France 2 (the French public television channel) published the video without fact checking it.
Why did you create a separate brand for reader-generated content? If you believe in it, why don't you integrate it with Le Monde's brand?
Because we needed to be free to experiment and you can't really experiment when you have a strong brand. You can't risk degrading it by making errors and testing new ways to produce news.
We're more 'popular' than Le Monde [in terms of what subjects are covered], with more politics, crime and accidents, web/buzz subjects, montages and collages of news content - it's not exactly the type of news that LeMonde's readers are used to reading.
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