As our case study suggests to us, STOMP’s area of engagement is rather clearly demarcated – citizen participation may be sought mainly in “soft news” areas, focusing on STOMPers’ everyday living and leisure time activities. It has a tendency to skip political and economical subjects as those are still regarded as too controversial to be opened to the involvement of news users.
Contents on STOMP may not rely on absolute freedom of citizen journalism, I am more inclined to say that it is the joint efforts of both professionals (i.e. STOMP journalist) and amateurs (STOMP readers/users), that bring us the “real” story. The invisible boundary between news producers and news users are lifted, now that users are empowered to share facts/tip-offs/ideas/perspectives, and ask questions. Journalists need the public to help build the stories. It recognises the complex relationships that will make news. And it focuses more on the process than the product.
Jeff Jervais (2006) calls this networked journalism, also known as citizen journalism, participatory news or citizen media.
In spite of the involvement of citizens as contributors, STOMP retains a degree of conventional editorial control over what is eventually published. In a 2007 radio interview with the editor of STOMP, Ms Jennifer Lewis, she shared that user-generated content is the very heart of STOMP. STOMPers can simply send an SMS/MMS via mobile phone to a short code, as long as the contents are not offensive, sexual, religion/race-related, they will be uploaded onto the website.