Wednesday, January 31, 2007 to use Citizen Journalism to power content

New real estate sales portal looks to be poised to be something more than just a muliple-listing service for the Internet. According to info on the site posted by Saul Klein, CEO of RealTown:™ is the first real estate Internet portal to rely on multi-layered Citizen Journalism for the bulk of its content; and it is one of the first media portals to embrace Citizen Journalism from every vantage point, from content creation to content delivery.

This is interesting--and may work in the case of a site and service like this. First, if it is a relator posting the "citizen journalism" then there is an incentive and possible money earned from the effort. Money more than likely won't be earned from posting to the site (don't know the revenue model), but will be earned by the realtor if the sale is made.

And there's nothing like free PR.

It would be nice, though, for there to be a clearer idea what is meant by "citizen journalism" in the case of RealTown.

What RealTown is asking for, though, is different from a site asking folks to post news-type stories about town goings-on with no agreement for any type of compensation. Relators powering the "citizen" content do indeed stand a chance of some profit from posting.

Yet further down comes this oddball sentence:™ integrates Citizen Journalism and Professional Journalism, giving equal editorial weight to articles from both camps, tapping the great resource of undiscovered talent and knowledge and making it available to everyone. What, though, does this mean in relation to the real estate business? There's a good chance I'm missing something (and if anyone knows r/e better, please inform) but does this mean they're willing to pay the "professional" journalists and not the "citizen" journalists? When there are few hard-and-fast differentiations between professional and citizen journalist--one of those being the earning of money--this does raise a few questions re how is going to keep the distinction.

I'd say that a distinction based on payments of money could be problematic. One based on reputation--unless the professional is an already established professional and known in that way--not so much. Then it may be a matter of the professional simply not accepting money for posting on RealTown (which is the case with cit j site on Canada.)

Some community aspects that may work:™ offers articles, blog posts, property search, and discussion threads from growing and diverse on-line communities, currently numbering over 40,000 members.™ members also enjoy access to a free web site publishing tool as well as free blogs. Available soon will be property and agent rating systems.™’s underlying design allows members the ability to easily add rich, up to the moment content to their RealTown blogs, Communities or web sites with a few easy steps (and in some instances automatically) so they can share content with other bloggers and other community members, and with the public. Members provide not only content, they contribute to shaping the design and functionality of the web and e-mail platforms themselves.™ is, after all, their community.

A one-stop shopping site, where one can find customer ratings, etc. is a rather productive idea--and may prove very valuable to folks moving from one state to another. Real Estate sites can still keep their own blogs *and* post additional content to RealTown that could drive inquiries back to their site, thus not lose traffic (and perhaps even gain some.) Here's RealTown's blog portal. RealTown also plans to use email lists and message boards--good move because each of these features allows for people to participate in the community in ways that are comfortable for them (not everybody cares to blog or leave comments on blogs due to many reasons around identity, need for anonymity,etc.) As long as the message boards are well-moderated, they will work.

This will be an interesting community to watch evolve in the upcoming year.

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