If you’re coming to Caltopia today or tomorrow, visit the Berkeleyside booth (we’re at E104). We’re happy to talk about Berkeleyside, but our big news is that we’re launching a major initiative to encourage collaboration between citizen journalists and our site.

We’re an early partner with OneNews, a Miami-based start-up that has developed a really seamless way for media sites to engage and deploy citizen journalists. You can become a member of Berkeleyside’s OneNews network by going to the sign-in site. OneNews works with iPhones and Android phones. Versions for Windows 7 phones are in the works.

Once you’ve signed up for OneNews, the editors at Berkeleyside can send out calls for coverage to people within a specific geography. Say, for example, there’s a protest in front of City Hall. We can identify OneNews users who are within a one-mile radius of the protest and send a message asking for photos or a story.

We’re excited to be early adopters of this technology. The first 50 people who use OneNews and send us a story or a photo will get a free OneNews T-shirt.

In the meantime, let us know in the comments below what you think about citizen journalism.

Lance Knobel

Lance Knobel (co-founder) has been a journalist for nearly 40 years. Much of his career was in business journalism. He was editor-in-chief of both Management Today, the leading business magazine in Britain,...

Join the Conversation


  1. From what I’ve heard, contributors DO get paid if the paper/site decides to use your photo or video.  The decision to pay the citi-reporter I believe is up to the paper/site.  That’s what the OneNews site explains.  They are located in Miami and their technology hub is in Miami and allows companies like Berkeleyside to use their platform to get access to citizen journalists.  They offer their platform to hyper-local companies across the globe.  The geo-tracking is for the purpose of allowing Berkeleyside to know where their citi-reporters are so when an event happens, they can send out an “assignment”.  So they can’t be “local” to all of their clients.  Makes sense to me.

  2. My two cents: Seems like you could ask for citizen contributions on Twitter and then folks can use the BS app or plain email to send you photos/articles.  Not sure why you need One News. I guess it streamlines the process a bit, but that may not be worth much given the negatives noted in previous posts. 

  3. The advantages to the citizen reporter approach is that we can hear some interesting neighborhood news. People who are engaged in their communities have a great deal to offer.

    Conversely, how can we expect to preserve any semblance of objectivity in reporting? We’ve suffered far too much biased reporting in the recent past (I am not including Berkeleyside in this category), asking the person on the street to provide objective information for something like a protest is likely to result in a very subjective report. Just as it’s difficult to sort fact from fiction on Yelp, getting to the truth of the more controversial issues. Such reportage would be a misappropriation of the word journalism.

    As a freelance writer (not a journalist), I’m sympathetic to the people who are skilled journalists facing a dwindling market due to news organizations lowering their standards and utilizing this model. It’s understandable for small, local agencies but the larger agencies are watching. What if large general contractors used DIY plumbers who were willing to work for free in return for having their name on the construction sign in front of the building? People should be paid for their work. It could have a very negative effect on the quality of news we receive. We have Facebook for gossip.

    As for the licensing, first exclusive rights are usually required by publishers that pay premium rates for stories, the NY Times, for instance. I think it’s exploitative to demand such rights for little or no compensation. I believe you should be licensing one time rights only.

  4. Becky – Thanks for the clarification. I noticed that he’d written several articles for the Daily Planet, but I should have been more careful to note that they were “commentaries” and not paid journalism.

    Tom – I’m sick and tired of you constantly heaping abuse and criticism on Berkeleyside, their writers, and their partners. They do a great service for this community, and everyone except you seems to appreciate it. If you don’t like this site and the way they run things here, go start your own website.

  5. What I think about citizen journalism: I love the idea of it, but if contributors aren’t compensated for their photos and writing, then no one should be compensated. Share the rewards like any legitimate news organization would. Don’t expect contributors in effect to subsidize your business with their content (which they license away and relinquish control over) while you earn a living from advertising dollars. Photos and writing are the cost of doing business and they add great value to the end product and it doesn’t matter if you’re a multi-national new conglomerate or a local, community reporting initiative.

  6. Hey, Ira, re “your thoughts?”:

    If you please I would like to set a bookmark Right There and come back to it later.   On this topic of the perils of Terms Of Service agreements and so forth — it so happens that I am a political activist and in the middle of a project.  A project really relevant to this exact topic!    But….  I’m “in the middle of a project” as are a lot of other activists all around the world.   We are working together and separately on something called “the freedombox project” hosted mainly by the Software Freedom Law Center out of NYC (and their partner in this matter, the Debian project) … and growing out of “the software freedom movement” led by the Free Software Foundation based in Boston.     For now, if you are not too worried about your privacy, you can use Google or a similar search service to learn more.

    Briefly, in the name of freedom, we hackers are working to give you the benefits of services like onenews (or facebook or google+ or …..) …. but without creating those uber-powerful middlemen who can dictate ridiculous terms of service, spy on you, etc.   The technology pretty much already all exists to fix the problems with these services … we’re putting it together as a political activism project. 

  7. If anyone were to ask I’d say I prefer all these comments to stand because I think the thread speaks volumes.   When I post here I’m really not trying to provoke the kind of response you and I seem to reliably get from The Sharkey and I’m not trying to encourage it.     I don’t see what he or she thinks they are accomplishing or even aiming for other than it seems to involve a lot of hostility to anything and everything associated with the Berkeley Daily Planet. 

  8. I’m breaking my self-imposed rule of staying off Berkeleyside since I have my own outlet,  just to correct a false accusation in your post.  Tom Lord has never been an employee of the Berkeley Daily Planet, which is now completely non-commercial and has no employees at all.  He, like many other public-spirited Berkeleyans, has written for the Planet under his own name as per our rules, sometimes for free, perhaps in the past as a free-lancer, I can’t remember. . We ask people whose work we publish only for the right to one-time publication–all other rights remain with the writer. That was even true for the paid reporters we did employ when we were a commercial print publication. As someone who’s worked as a journalist, as an employer of journalists and as an intellectual property attorney in the software industry, I can however confirm that Tom’s analysis of the OneNews contract is substantially correct.  Prospective writers are free to make their own decisions about whether they want to work under it.   I’ve flagged your comment because of the false accusation, and if the proprietors remove it they should take this one down too.

  9. Thanks, The Sharkey (May I call you El for short?)

    I’ll read most posts no matter how they’re submitted.  One reason I prefer people use their real names is that it gives a bit of context to their posts.

    Eye-Ra, Berkeley incarnation of the ancient Egyptian God of Digital Photography.

  10. Actually, Ira, it has everything to do with the fact that Tom Lord is a sometimes-employee of Berkeleyside’s main “competition” for local Berkeley news, the Berkeley Daily Planet.

    Go back through Berkelyside’s history and read the plethora of abusive comments by “dasht” – the name that Tom Lord went by here on Berkeleyside before being banned and switching to “Bruce Love.”

    Tom doesn’t mind heaping abuse on Berkeleyside, despite the fact that he clearly comes here EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

  11. Bruce … actually I’d forgotten that you had a pseudo-pseudonym and was actually referring to The Sharkey.  That might be in part because my brother’s name is Bruce so that Bruce Love, to me, is not obvious pseudonym.

    Regarding terms of service.  They tend to be screen loads of information which I’d guess most people just scroll down and click yes to. Most of the places which have TOS are places I’ve gone to intentionally, or have been referred to me by trusted sources such as Berkeleyside, so I frequently just scroll and click yes without reading them.

    The real issue of TOS of service is that they’re rarely clearly written or succinct.  Here’s what it could be like (using your interpretation of what it says)


    The rest of the terms of service (TOS) is in the legalese.

    Please read it.

    What our TOS means is that OneNews corporation:

    a: gets exclusive rights to the material for 5 years … any perhaps longer, and;

    b: will be tracking your location all the time and can do whatever we want with that data, and; 

    c: can change the rules at any time without giving notice, and;d: can sublicense it to third parties, and;

    e: offers t-shirts which could shrink.

    I figure one reason TOS are not clearly and concisely written is that if they were, fewer people would agree with them.

    Your thoughts?


  12. Hmmmmm…. my first thoughts are that having some Miami-based company involved takes away from the real “local feel” of Berkeleyside.  I could be wrong because I’m not so very high tech, but I have a feeling I don’t like this move. 

  13. Oh, also, Ira:  there’s an analyst / wonk / investor person who’s been around the tech industry for a few decades — Esther Dyson — who came up with a neat idea for terms of service.   Too bad nobody has had the integrity to do it.  It goes like this:

    Instead of “click here to reads the terms of service” and “check this box to agree” ….  she suggested services should present the terms, ask if the user agrees, but only accept the user’s “yes” answer if, additionally, the user can pass a quiz about the finer points of the terms of service.

    I think it would be a great idea if, in addition, we require that some third party with regulatory authority gets to make up the quiz.

  14. Hi Ira.   Thanks.   On the pseudonnym thing,  I figure you weren’t only talking about me but on my pseudnym:  (a) it’s only kinda, sorta pseudo because one of my given names is Bruce, love.  (b) I think that some of my critics do me a kindness when they so often (redundantly) “out” me by the name I more usually go by.    It’s interesting to be able to put on a mask without having to commit to or even much risk fooling anybody. 

  15. Bruce,  really appreciate your comments on the licensing, and Joe Shemuel’s thoughts on use of HDR photos in news reports.

    The Sharkey – this has nothing to do with liking Berkeleyside or their partners, it has everything to do with reporting practices, licenses, fair use, digital rights.
    I’ve not read the fine print on the OneNews licensing, but since I have different levels of quality and quantity of digital media I produce, I greatly appreciate knowing how it will be used by others.

    Thanks, Bruce.

    Ira Serkes

    PS – I think there are good reasons for people to be able to post anonymously or with pseudonyms, I personally feel using a real name adds credibility.

    According to http://howmanyofme.com/search/

    There are 1 or fewer people in the U.S. named Ira Serkes.

    So .. WYSIWYG

  16. The licensing agreement is pretty intense if I understand it correctly.  A lot of people, I think, won’t care about things like this but:

    I think it says that if I submit a picture or video or words, then OneNews corporation gets exclusive rights to the material for 5 years (and generous rights to it beyond that).   So, if I want to give some material through OneNews, then I may not soon sell it anywhere else or even freely use the material on my own.

    Also, some company in Miami will be tracking my location all the time, with no real restrictions on what they can do with that data.  

    Also, they are free at any time and without giving notice to change the rules of what they do with my personal information and tracking data and uploaded content.

    Oh, and, they can also delete any of my content from the “market”, at any time, for any reason.   Oh, and when they sell my content — sublicense it to third parties — I have little or no control over the license details.

    I think they are getting a very, very good deal for a few t-shirts.