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April 08, 2005

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Jay Furst

The Readership Institute, the MSM-sponsored organization that raised the profile of readership triage in all newsrooms, has a new report about an initiative with the Star Tribune. If you're interested in how many newsrooms (including the P-B's) are responding to changing reader interests and habits, take a look: www.readership.org.

The missing element in just about all reporting on citizen journalism initiaties is: How many people are actually reading these things? The lack of detail on how many eyeballs are actually trained on blogs (including this one, and mine...I'll tell you mine in a minute) is often disingenuous. Tell us the numbers! Then we'll judge whether people really have any interest in particular ideas and formats.

Citizen sites may have a future, but certainly they may not -- they're not a historical inevitability. There's a kind of millennialist enthusiasm for what's happening with citizen journalism, but it remains to be seen whether there's any audience at all for it, and the people who are most enthusiastic about CJ are those with clearly vested interests -- bloggers and online journalists hoping to catch on, and academics looking to validate theories.

The question is, as always -- who's reading?

Full disclosure: My three-month-old Web log, Honk, gets 300-500 hits on a weekday, many fewer on the weekend. Hardly enough to put bread on the table, or help underwrite a news organization.

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