We received a lot of information about local correspondents in France. I am reproducing here some of the elements that were in the comments of the previous post:
1- How many pro-journalists in regional newspapers in France (63 million inhabitants)?
6,000 journalists for 60 newspapers. So, it is about, on average, 1 journalist for 10,050 inhabitants but this ratio can be different depending on the density of the population. Some samples provided to us were up to 1/40,000.
2- How many "amateur" contributors (correspondents)?
25,000 correspondents. So, on average, about 4 correspondents for 1 journalist. And 1 correspondent for 2,520 inhabitants. But larger newspapers have a different ratio that is more along the lines of 10 correspondents for 1 journalist. Is technology going to help us to increase this number?
3- What do they produce?
Their roles vary a lot from sending alerts, agendas, etc. (between 60 to 70% of the correspondents), to writing articles and taking photos (between 30 to 40%).
4- Is what they send checked?
Yes ! The desk checks their work. Journalists, at the desk, complain that it is a long process and it is one of the reasons that some of the correspondent copy is not published on time. Is technology going to help us simplify and improve the process?
5- How they are paid?
There are different systems. I am just going to talk about the one we like the most: the point system. Here is the example of the French newspaper Sud-Ouest (source - nov. 2006 - EH Boyer). One point is paid 0.80 euros.
- Brief (3 to 4 lines) = 1 pt
- Short article (5 to 20 lines) = 6 pts
- Article (30 to 50 lines) = 14 points
- Special article (crime, accidents...) = 20 pts
- Feature (50 to 70 lines) = 35 pts
- Alert (phone call to share news with the local pro journalist) = 8 pts
- Results (sports, elections) = 25 pts
- Regular photo = 4 pts
- Cover photo = 15 pts
- Cover local section photo = 10 pts
Once again, we are not saying that the French system is perfect. It can be improved. But, we want to show that the mix of pro and semi-pro journalists is already used by local media. It's been around for 40 years. So it is not a fantasy to try to imagine this kind of newsroom organization.
Still in France (sorry, I know, a French example again), LePost.fr, a pure-play launched by Le Monde Multimedia works with a team of pro and amateurs to cover national and local news. They have 8 journalists for 25,000 "amateur" contributors. 2,500 are very active. In a little over a year, Le Post became one of the top news French sites with over 1.5 million UV et more than 6 million visits/month in December 2008 (source: OJD - circulation bureau in France).
I'll talk more about Le Post later. And we will continue posting about local newsroom organization.