Ladies' HomeJournal magazine cover
Ladies’ Home Journal is taking open journalism one step further: to the magazine world. The publication announced on January 10 that its content will soon be written almost entirely by readers.
 
Pros:
• Majority of the staff still keep their jobs, now working as fact-checks and helping develop the readers’ stories.
• Readers will be paid professional rates for contributing articles.
• Could help new or young journalists (such as those of us in j-school) get a foot in the door of the freelance world.
• Ladies’ Home Journal might gain new readership.
ladiesjournal
Cons:
• Further blurs the line between who is and is not a journalist.
• Might not get enough content, or might get content that is not publishable.
• Unless freelance journalists contribute articles as ‘readers,’ there probably will not be as many professional articles or access to exclusive sources.
• Ladies’ Home Journal could lose readership.

Ideally, open journalism creates greater transparency, accuracy, and trust—OpenFile is a successful example. My concern, though, is that in an age where it is already difficult to decide who qualifies as a journalist, a move like this only makes that question more confusing. OpenFile is a specific concept—it was founded solely for the purpose of open journalism. But for Ladies’ Home Journal to change this dramatically is a risky move. Though there are a few exceptions, so far the internet has been the great untamed wild of ‘journalism,’ where anyone from ages four to 99 can write a blog post about their day.

I do not like the idea. I am all for higher transparency—and I think it is great that readers can become more involved with the magazine—but having them write the majority of the content seems like a bad move. Maybe it’s the change-resistant part of me writing this, but journalism should be written by people who spend their days absorbed in the subject; by people who genuinely care about what is going down on paper and know how to craft a compelling story.

 

(Visited 24 times, 1 visits today)

About the author

Rebecca Zanussi was the Head of Research of the Summer 2012 issue of the Ryerson Review of Journalism.

Sign Up for Our Newsletter

Keep up to date with the latest stories from our newsroom.