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National Press Club targets citizen journalists

The 100-year-old professional club for journalists aims to recruit new online-media members through a partnership with

The National Press Club, a 100-year-old professional club for journalists, aims to recruit new online-media members through a partnership with, a hub for citizen journalists. The deal is expected to be announced on Tuesday.

In terms of new media, the partnership is a first for the NPC and part of an overall strategy to update its image, including new renovations to its Web site. Several years ago, the NPC recognized the blogosphere by changing its constitution so that online writers could more easily apply for membership. With its Helium partnership, NPC is trying to extend its reach to more writers.

Sylvia Smith, president of NPC, said that the world is changing and so is journalism, but that "nothing changes the NPC's commitment to supporting high-quality journalism." Like traditional journalists, writers with Helium must apply for club membership and that application is judged by committee.

Helium provides a platform for roughly 100,000 citizen journalists who write about anything from the genocide in Darfur to the Grammy-winning musician Amy Winehouse. (Helium pays writers with a share of the advertising revenue from traffic to their articles.) To vet articles for quality, Helium encourages writers and visitors to rate the value of an article, thereby giving the writer a higher status on the site, or what the company calls "star status." Helium president Mark Ranalli said the company will encourage writers with a five-star status (its highest rating) to apply for NPC membership.

"The NPC doesn't want every Tom, Dick, and Harry to apply for membership--that's why they've always relied on traditional news outlets. But Helium is becoming that for the citizen journalist," Ranalli said.