With the decline of newspapers, there's been a lot of talk about web journalism being the future of the news business. But what exactly do we mean by web journalism?
Web journalism actually encompasses a whole range of different kinds of sites, including:
Websites run by newspapers are basically extensions of the papers themselves. As such, they can provide a wide range of articles in a variety of areas - news, sports, business, the arts, etc. - written by their staff of professional reporters.
In some cases, newspapers shut down their printing presses but continue to operate their websites. Often, however, when the presses stop running the news staff is gutted, leaving only a bare-bones newsroom behind.
Independent News Websites
These sites, often found in larger cities, tend to specialize in hard-news coverage of municipal government, city agencies, law enforcement, and schools. Some of them are known for their hard-hitting investigative reporting. Their content is typically produced by small staffs of full-time reporters and freelancers.
Many such independent news sites are nonprofits funded by a mix of ad revenue and contributions from donors and foundations.
Hyper-Local News Sites
These sites specialize in coverage of small, specific communities, right down to the individual neighborhood. As the name implies, the coverage tends to focus on extremely localized events: the police blotter, the agenda of the town board meeting, the performance of a school play.
Hyper-local sites can be independent or run by newspapers as extensions of their websites. Their content is typically produced by local freelance writers and bloggers.
Citizen Journalism Sites
Citizen journalism sites run a wide gamut. Some are basically just online platforms where people can post video reports or pictures on virtually any subject. Others focus on a specific geographic area and provide more targeted specific coverage.
Content for citizen journalism sites is usually provided by a loose affiliation of writers, bloggers and video reporters with varying degrees of journalism experience. Some citizen journalism sites are edited; others are not.
Blogs are known primarily for being platforms for delivering opinion and commentary, but many actually do real reporting as well. Bloggers have varying degrees of journalism experience.