It is evident that the ways in which we report new information and get informed have been changing for some time now and continue to do so. For years, traditional media have been opening the door to new media and, above all, to new means of communication which can perfectly complement the existing ones -even though they are always encountered with opponents-.

This change can be viewed from different perspectives, but one of the key drivers is the demand of citizens to actively take part in the creation of content, giving shape to the figure of the “prosumer”, that is, someone who both produces and consumes the content and information stored on the network. Beyond journalism, multimedia communication tools such as Twitch promote, among users, a sense of belonging to a community and encourage their active participation in its creation.

Currently, there are websites that enable any citizen to create content. Even though its initial purpose was different, Medium is now a publishing service where anyone can write a freely themed text. It emerged in 2012 and has gradually been recruiting authors who joined it for fun and out of the desire to share their content.

It has a minimalist but truly useful design that combines articles from different authors on the front page and creates that feeling of belonging to a digital platform. It has managed to get thousands of users to use the tool as a production repository and even as a quick way for others to access their content, in the form of a portfolio. Thus, Medium is successfully offering multiple options while enabling professional contributors to generate income thanks to the subscription-based content “sold” by the platform.

Does Medium promote collaborative journalism?

According to the definition, collaborative journalism is a model of journalism carried out by a group of people who create information and distribute it among themselves and to third parties through the web, seeking to produce more content than any individual journalist, newsroom or organization could produce on its own. Another concept that is related but different from this term is that of citizen journalism; it describes the participation of the public in the creation and dissemination of information.

We could say that tools such as Medium combine both ideas, providing a space for citizens who wish to produce content and thus become journalists, and at the same time contribute to the formation of a network of communicators as part of collaborative journalism.

Other tools such as Wikinews define themselves with their call to action: “Don’t forget that on Wikinews, you are the journalist! If there is a topic you want Wikinews to cover, create an account and write your own news!” It is a free content news source with the idea of bridging the digital divide and everyone is invited to publish reports, whether short, long, written from personal experience or gathered from anywhere else.

News-365 free publishing portal

Currently, an increasing number of platforms rely on this model of collaboration for the creation of digital content. This is the case of News 365, a portal for the publication of text and multimedia content; it has been created as a result of a research project of our IOT Digital Innovation Hub, which seeks to combine current affairs, opinion and topics of free choice. Any user can access, register and start uploading content. It also operates as a social network since readers can follow the authors -and the authors can follow each other- to keep abreast of publications and comments.

Although this platform is only a few months old, it is gaining visibility as the official media of the C1b3rWall Academy; the digital security and cyber intelligence course of the National Police, which has had 20,000 registered participants before its launch last June 7, for the first module on blockchain and cryptocurrencies.

In short, although there are still few platforms that are committed to collaboration and citizen participation in journalism, their innovative model and user-centred approach is leading to an ever-increasing interest in them.

Posted by Juan M. Corchado

Juan Manuel Corchado (15 May 1971, Salamanca, Spain) is Professor at the University of Salamanca. He has been Vice-Rector for Research from 2013 to 2017 and Director of the Science Park of the University of Salamanca. Elected as Dean of the Faculty of Science twice, he holds a PhD in Computer Science from the University of Salamanca and a PhD in Artificial Intelligence from the University of the West of Scotland. He leads the renowned BISITE (Bioinformatics, Intelligent Systems and Educational Technology) Research Group, created in 2000. Director of the IoT Digital Innovation Hub and President of the AIR Institute, J. M. Corchado is also Visiting Professor at the Osaka Institute of Technology since January 2015, Visiting Professor at the Universiti Malaysia Kelantan and Member of the Advisory Group on Online Terrorist Propaganda of the European Counter Terrorism Centre (EUROPOL). J. M. Corchado has been president of the IEEE Systems, Man and Cybernetics Society, and academic coordinator of the University Institute for Research in Art and Animation Technology at the University of Salamanca, as well as researcher at the Universities of Paisley (UK), Vigo (Spain) and the Plymouth Marine Laboratory (UK). He currently combines all his activity with the direction of Master programmes in Security, Digital Animation, Mobile Telephony, Information Systems Management, Internet of Things, Social Media, 3D Design and Printing, Blockchain, Z System, Industry 4.0, Agile Project Management, and Smart Cities & Intelligent Buildings, at the University of Salamanca and his work as editor-in-chief of the journals ADCAIJ (Advances in Distributed Computing and Artificial Intelligence Journal), OJCST (Oriental Journal of Computer Science and Technology) or Electronics MDPI (Computer Science & Engineering section). J. M. Corchado mainly works on projects related to Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Blockchain, IoT, Fog Computing, Edge Computing, Smart Cities, Smart Grids and Sentiment Analysis. He has recently been included in the board of trustees of the AstraZeneca Foundation, along with other health professionals and researchers recognised for bringing scientific knowledge closer to society.