Monday, February 5, 2007
Open source journalism: How's that work?
Frankly, the answer is yet to be discovered, but here's a place to check into some musing on it. Jay Rosen has launched a Web site dedicated to open source reporting, called newassignment.net. He plans to test out how professionals would work with amateurs to report news. He makes the distinction that these amateur pieces are not op-eds, but the real deal, reporting.
How exactly will that work? He's trying to figure that out now by collecting information on open source reporting, and gearing up for a test story on elections and voting experiences. Check out his Web site. There you can find a short 6-minute video of him talking about his project. And, you can even sign up to be a contributor.
Or, you can listen to a talk he gave at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet & Society last November. The talk was called "open source journalism" and you can find it here. He talks and takes questions on his idea for about an hour and 20 minutes. (I download these into my music player and go walking in the hills, pondering the future of our work.)
One idea that emerges from it is that professional journalists will use amateurs as "smart mob" contributors to their stories. His example was the two or three reporters assigned to cover pharmaceuticals for a newspaper in New Jersey. Your source list could include a "smart mob" of people who work for the pharmaceuticals, spouses of those who work there, former workers there...etc etc. If you could put out a call for this audience to tell you what they know, you would learn more than if you were relying on your traditional sources and yourself to cover the industry.
The reporter rakes in all this info and then starts to work with it. Fact checking and corroboration are a big part of this process, according to Rosen. You may already know of Rosen's New York University Web site, Pressthink.