Sunday, 2 December 2007

Citizen newspapers; another social enterprise model?

Imagine a villager visiting a telecentre to feed a local news clip to an e-Newspaper that circulates to 100,000 people a day, and get a payment for the news feed..! Well I have eye witnessed that was happening in Chile. In this case it was the telecentre operator (local girl) does the newsfeed.

‘Telecentro San Rafael’, small telecentre with 4 computers, located in a mix community of 6000 people, was run by a young girl. The place is busy with local children, youth and house wives seeking internet services, printing and photocopy services, generating about 270$ a month. During the free hours, telecentre operator feeds the news, that she gathers from the local area to the popular e-newspaper of the area – ‘El a Maule’ ( ). She earns a reasonable fee for her news.

‘El a Maule’ is one of the five well known e-Newspapers in Chile, focus into local news of Maule region of Chile. As per the latest statistics of Diarios Ciudadanos (the company who manage them), more than 100,000 page viewers per day read the news generated by over 2000 Citizen news correspondents, who feed the 70% of the overall content.

Diarios Ciudadanos introduced first Citizen e-Newspaper of Latin America in 2005. By now they run 5 e-Newspapers, and 2 more are scheduled to be launched in months. They partner with local institutions such as Maule Activa – the telecentre network operator, who runs 30 telecentres in Maule region. Telecentre operators were provided training to become local correspondents. For Maule Activa it serves two purposes; (a) an opportunity for the local community to bring their local voices (news) to the national attention, (b) an additional income to the telecentre operator.

Diarios Ciudadanos maintain high standards of news excellence. They never allow news about violence, celebrity gossip, obscene photographs or offensive material. Every news feed by the citizens filters through a network of editors.

Citizen participation is given the best opportunity. As per the Diarios Ciudadanos, journalism evolves into Citizen journalism in the era of network of networks. The rural telecentres are a part of that network eco-system.

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