How citizens create news stories: The “news access” problem reversed

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A systematic study of day-to-day practices of citizen reporters, compared to their mainstream counterparts, suggests that ordinary citizens can serve as a vital complement to mainstream journalism, however not as its substitute. The paper develops a version of the “news access” theory, which sees citizen journalists as hindered by their inferior access to news sources, unlike mainstream journalism, where the problem is seen as the superior access of some of their sources to extensive and favored coverage. There are several symptoms for citizen reporters’ limited news access: their modest use of human sources; the high proportion of one-source items; their reluctance to interactively negotiate versions with sources; and their contacts with sources tend to be ad hoc exchanges, rather than long-term role relationships. On the other hand, citizen reporters have adopted several mechanisms that help them make up for their comparably limited access. They are much more likely to pursue stories at their own initiative. They tend to predicate their stories on firsthand witnessing, technical sources (mainly Internet), personal acquaintances, and on their own experience. Data were gleaned from a series of interviews in which reporters from Israeli citizen and mainstream news websites explained how they formulated their sampled items.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)739-758
Number of pages20
JournalJournalism Studies
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2008


  • Citizen journalism
  • Initiative
  • News sources
  • Newsmaking
  • Online news


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