Journalists want YOU…

It is often said that journalists know a little about a lot,

…but networked journalism, or more specifically crowdsourcing, means journalists could have the chance to know a lot about a lot.

Crowdsourcing is the collaboration between ‘professional’ journalists and amateur journalists, says Jeff Jarvis. Journalists have always needed to use sourcing and networking techniques in the past but web 2.0 makes this process easier, quicker and more reliable because it creates more opportunities for the journalist to hear the voice of a bigger public. With a click of a button, journalists can now engage in communication with online communities all over the world sharing the news process with their public. With such a vast number of potential contributors who have specialist knowledge, our news articles can be more reliable than they have ever been.

Crowdsourcing is…

  • about including the readers in every aspect of the news- gathering, production and publication.
  • using social networks like Twitter or Facebook and blogs to find experts worldwide who are able to share their knowledge on a specialist subject
  • posting questions for a group on a specialist message board
  • setting up online suveys and polls to seek views or using a Creative Commons pool on Flickr to find photos for articles
  • requesting readers personal stories and opinions to become closer to the people you are publishing for

Many journalists feel threatened by this emergence of user generated content but crowdsourcing shouldn’t mean that there won’t be a place for professional journalists in the future, or that using the crowd is an attempt by news companies to cut costs as the credit crunch bites. On the contrary, it should be seen as an advantage of web 2.0 and with the right approach can lead to better journalism.

Many news companies are using the techniques to their advantage.

The News Press in Fort Myers, Florida proved that contrary to some peoples’ beliefs, crowdsourcing can save time. After hurricane Katrina, they asked the public to help gather information concerning relief payments to the local community. They had an overwhelming response, which wouldn’t have been possible if the journalists had worked on the investigative report on their own.

To take a more local example, on the Liverpool Daily Post website, they appeal to their readers to “help us make the news” by asking them for their stories, pictures and videos meaning that the community can chose what news they want and become a voice in the news process.

The website says: “Have you got a story to tell us? We’d love to hear about it, so send it to us here. Use the form below to tell us your story, along with a brief headline. You can also add a photo as well if you want.We may then use your story here or in the Liverpool Daily Post.”

Neil Benson, Trinity Regionals editorial director said: “The bigger issue for us is to get some of our journalists comfortable with the idea that this kind of contribution can be as important, or more important, than their own work.”

Another example is NewAssignment.Net, which is a website whose mission is to “spark innovation in open platform journalism, distributed reporting and what’s now called crowdsourcing.” They are trying to show that collaboration over the internet between reporters and the public can produce high quality work.

These examples prove that using the crowd as an additional set of eyes and ears can only be a good thing for journalists. Professional journalists will always be needed in the news process but crowdsourcing means citizens can play a part in the news process building greater trust in journalism.



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