While reciprocity is a key to building trust in a social network, it is not key to journalism. At the end of their essay, Reciprocal Journalism, the authors say that it is more of a way to understand the journalist-audience relationship in a community. The prime way an audience engages with a news story is in the comments section. The journalist finds the story, does the reporting, and writes the story. The story is the basis for discussion and the comments are where the community has their discussion.
How would reciprocal journalism work? Yes local stations do use tweeted pictures of monster snowstorms, but I see that as the extent of audience participation. I would argue that the reciprocation is that the journalist gets a page view and the audience gets compelling information.
As a news consumer I would much rather read a story by someone who spent two hours tracking down, and getting a quote from just the right source than someone who spent those two hours answering questions from their Twitter followers.
The authors argue that the audience is less engaged when they are not active participants in news judgement and presentation. That is true, but when I take my car to the mechanic, I’m not actively involved in the repair process. I agree with the authors that there’s a transaction cost for engaging with the audience. Audience engagement shouldn’t get in the way of reporting a story.