Doug Fisher has created a 75 page manual/journal of the effort to wrap a citizen journalism layer around a traditional paper:
When we started it with funding from J-lab, we promised a “cook book” that would give other smaller papers considering such projects a road map of what to expect and how to handle some of the challenges.
The report is done and now available. Feel free to download it. It’s a 1 Mb PDF that covers everything from the multitude of early decisions about design and content to the rigors of getting people involved, sales and the technical aspect.
In addition to covering all the aspects, we think it is the first major extended study of such a site, the postings and their contributors. There is an extensive section that tracks five months of postings and proposes a codebook that may be of use to future researchers.
I’ve got it pumping out of my printer right now, and I’m really looking forward to reading it. In my current research collecting “placeblogs,” I’ve focused mainly on independent citizen journalism sites, but the more I see, the more I feel there’s promise for local weeklies and dailies to combine their existing efforts with online initiatives that connect citizens to each other. There’s no evidence that such initiatives “work,” if by “work” we mean increase circulation or halt declining circulation. But I think they’re very promising experiments to recreate the feeling of “our newspaper” that’s missing in so many towns and cities.