Sunday, July 15, 2007

Crowdsourcing and pro-am journalism

Last Friday, I attended a short lecture on new trends in investigative reporting by Sheila Coronel, who is right now in Manila after several months working in New York as the inaugural director of The Toni Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism at Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism. In her lecture, the multi-awarded investigative journalist and former executive director of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (one of only three Hall of Famers of the Jaime V. Ongpin Awards for Excellence in Journalism) discussed several new journalism techniques, including "crowdsourcing."

What is crowdsourcing, and why is it rapidly becoming a popular form of journalism in this era of Web 2.0 and citizen journalism?

Here's an article on Assignment Zero, the leading proponent of this journalism technique.

Crowdsourced Journalism - Assignment Zero: an Experiment in Pro-Am Journalism

Assignment Zero is an experiment in professional-amateur journalism: amateurs write/report, professionals edit. Everybody wins. And with this, “pro-am journalism” enters the lingo of the new world of media.

This win-win-win models solves one of the problems related with citizen/crowdsourced journalism: separating the chaff from the wheat. Very simply, to create a check on citizen journalism sources, including blogs, that influence opinion and pass on as “news.”

Citizen journalism/ my-blog-is-a-newsroom phenomena have many issues associated with them: everything from spelling & grammar matters, to fact verification, to having coverage diversity has been an open question. There are proposals of self-regulation and external control.

Journalism Professor Jay Rosen, in association with WIRED magazine, has found a pro-active solution somewhat Wikipedia style. Wikipedia is a self-governed content system where the contributors choose the editors - and create patrols such as the ”Association of Deletionist Wikipedians.”

Click here for more.

In a letter posted in the AssignmentZero site, Jay Rosen (a prominent American journalist and media critic) explains the reason behind the creation of AssignmentZero, which involves both professional journalists and internet users in reporting.

Why We're Doing This
by Jay Rosen

Welcome to Assignment Zero.

Inspired by the open-source movement, this is an attempt to bring journalists together with people in the public who can help cover a story. It's a collaboration among NewAssignment.Net, Wired, and those who choose to participate.

The investigation takes place in the open, not behind newsroom walls. Participation is voluntary; contributors are welcome from across the Web. The people getting, telling and vetting the story are a mix of professional journalists and members of the public -- also known as citizen journalists. This is a model I describe as "pro-am."

The "ams" are simply people getting together on their own time to contribute to a project in journalism that for their own reasons they support. The "pros" are journalists guiding and editing the story, setting standards, overseeing fact-checking, and publishing a final version.

Click here for more.

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