Posts about networkedjournalism

Off the bus

The sign-up page is ready for the HuffingtonPost/Jay Rosen effort at citizen tracking of candidates: Off the bus. Details via links there.

New Assignment’s progress

The first fruits of NewAssignment.net’s labors are up at Wired — an article about Cizendium — and Jay Rosen reports on the process and what they’re learning, transparent to their word. “Whether Assignment Zero worked or not is ultimately in the journalism,” Jay concludes. “Right now I’d say about 28 percent of what we did worked. But there’s time to push that up.”

I still think much of this is in the assignment. This assignment was influenced, perhaps too much, by the first partner, Wired. The original concept was that the public would pick the story it wanted to work on and though that would have been difficult to pull off from a standing start, now that there is a community around NA.net, I think it would be easier to open up the assignment part of the process as well. Jay quotes some criticism and worry from the start of the project, including from me:

We were criticized for starting with a geeky and self-referential story. “Man, you could have tackled health care, education, immigration, race relations, religion – or any number of real news topics,” said Tom Watson, whose instincts I respect. “And the thing is, even if this thing rocks, it will only prove the concept to a bunch on insider head-nodders anyway.”

It’s a fair point, and I replied to it here. Jeff Jarvis, a friend of the project, said we started with something too hard. “I think they actually bit off a big bite for their first story,” he wrote, “because it’s more qualitative than quantitative, more about interviews and views than numbers and facts.” He was more right than I thought at the time.

I think it’s worth trying to list the characteristics of the ideal networked story. I’m still thinking that it’s something more fact- and data-based, more quantitative than qualitative. This allows the gathering of news that would not have been possible with a tiny team of journalists: What can 1,000 people learn that one cannot? It also implies a broader story, for why would 1,000 people want to help gather reporting unless they cared about the results? And it yields something we didn’t know until we could gather it, and that’s the essence of news.

I think that NewAssignment.net has already answered the biggest and most critical question: Will people give a damn sufficient to go to the effort of journalism? Will they be able to work together? Can the tasks be split up so that they can accomplish something as a whole? I’d say the answers appear to be yes. So to me, the real question is how best people can harnass themselves to accomplish journalism together. And I think the art of that will be in the assignment. I’d start the discussion on Assignment One now.

PrezVid does deal with washingtonpost.com

I’m proud to announce that we at PrezVid have done a deal with washingtonpost.com to contribute content to a new blog in their political section and to get promotion, traffic, and revenue in return. From their press release, issued today:

washingtonpost.com ‘Politics’ Section Expands Campaign Coverage with More Video, Newsmakers, On-the-Scene Reporting

Partnership with Jeff Jarvis Yields PrezVid.com Content on the YouTube 2008 Presidential Campaign . . .

In addition, washingtonpost.com is announcing a relationship with video weblog PrezVid.com, the latest production from blogger and media critic Jeff Jarvis and partner Peter Hauck, to provide the site’s “Politics” section with its coverage of the campaign through the eyes of YouTube and internet video.

“PrezVid has the unique opportunity to chronicle how internet video transforms politics in America from the very first moment,” Jarvis said. “YouTube enables the candidates to talk to voters around the media at eye level, and it allows voters to talk back. One of the first initiatives we’ll be making with washingtonpost.com is to invite voters to ask questions and invite candidates to answer. We are also making our own Internet shows criticizing the candidates’ and voters’ videos and interviewing the players in this new world.”

Jarvis praised washingtonpost.com for inventing a new relationship with an independent news blog. “washingtonpost.com saw us covering this arena and found a way to incorporate our content while helping to support the coverage. This is an important experiment, showing how a news organization can expand by building a broader network of coverage through independent blogs.”

That last point is the important one, as far as I’m concerned: a new model for big-small media relations.

So you’ll find PrezVid content at PrezVid and on the Post’s site and we will also be working on cooperative endeavors. PrezVid and IdolCritic are the first two productions of Exploding Video, a small-TV studio. More to follow.

Here is the full press release.

CNN appearance

Here’s my CNN appearance on Reliable Sources with Howard Kurtz today regarding the media and Virginia Tech:

Virginia Tech citizen reporting

CNN just said (at 3p ET on Monday) that already, 900,000 people have watched the video of the scene at Virginia Tech during the mass shooting there, made by student Jamal Albaughouti. (More would have seen it if I could link right to the video or embed it, by the way.) This is the next step after 7/7 and still pictures: video. And the next step at the next big news event: it will be shot and broadcast live from a cellphone.

: LATER: CNN keeps calling Albaughouti “our I-reporter.” I suppose that’s OK: pride.

Albaughouti was just on Larry King’s show. He said that he was happy to leave the Middle East and go to Virginia because it was safe. Did King ask him where he was from? Of course, not. He was rushing to get Dr. Phil on. “You know, I deal with psychopaths and sociopaths everyday who are capable of doing this,” Dr. Phil says. If this blog had a webcam, you’d see me rolling my eyes now.

King is interviewing students, whom I want to hear. But he keeps interrupting them to go to Dr. Phil, whom I could well do without.

: Note also that students in a media class in the school immediately took to the phones and email to try to find out facts and get them up for fellow students on their site, PlanetBlacksburg.com (which is well overloaded now). This is the urgency and immediacy of journalism in the midst of a story but, more important, of a need.

One lead by Kevin Tosh:

As a bitter wind blew and a light snow fell over the campus of Virginia Tech, the morning hustle and bustle of an average Monday morning was quickly quieted by a senseless act of violence.

A lone gunman entered West Ambler Johnston Hall on the campus of Virginia Tech and killed two people — one of them identified as Resident Advisor Ryan Clark– shortly after 7 Monday morning.

More headlines there: “Virginia Tech is Devastated by the Worst College School Shooting in U.S. History” and “Afternoon Press Conference Raises More Questions Than Answers.”

When asked why officials did not close campus sooner when the shooting incident occurred in West Ambler Johnston, Virginia Tech Police Chief Wendell Flinchum said, “We thought the situation was handled. . . We knew two people were shot and that’s the information we went off of.”

: ARRRGH: Dr. Phil blames it on video games already, knowing absolutely jackshit nothing about the case or the killer. He says that we are “programming the mass murderers of tomorrow” who are children today with “massive overdoses of violence.” Why is this man on TV?

Should you choose to accept it….

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it, is up on NewAssignment.net. This is Jay Rosen’s inspiration brought to life. As he explains the question:

Can large groups of widely scattered people, working together voluntarily on the net, report on something happening in their world right now, and by dividing the work wisely tell the story more completely, while hitting high standards in truth, accuracy and free expression?
If they can, this would matter.

I think they actually bit off a big bite for their first story, their assignment zero, because it’s more qualitative than quantitative, more about interviews and views than numbers and facts. They’re going to assess the impact of crowdsourcing. That comes, I suspect, from the influence of Wired, which was first step up for a joint project. I think the results will be fascinating but also challenging as they figure out how do — and this is Jay’s key inspiration — cut up a story into its elemental bits of reporting and assign those out. Jay again:

We’re going to investigate the growth and spread of crowdsourcing, which overlaps with something called peer production. (Yochai Benkler’s complete term is “commons-based peer production.”) This basically means people making valuable stuff by cooperating online, mainly because they want to and sometimes because they’re paid to assist. . . .

While the geeks invented such practices, first with free software, then with open source, they long ago lost control of them; and today crowdsourcing is on the rise across a wide social landscape, from corporate America and government to arts and crafts. Wikipedia calls this open-source culture.

Collaboration in the open-source diaspora and why it works when it does (plus what it can’t do …), that’s a sprawling and nuanced story with lots of locations. It lies in pieces — and in people who know the practices. There’s also a little mystery at the core of it: Why are these people willing to work for free?

Nuanced, indeed. That’s not as easy an exercise in networked journalism as, say, comparing prices for drugs across the country, one of the early examples thrown out for NewAssignment, or comparing companies’ family policies. But they didn’t go for easy out of the gate. That will make the process as fascinating to watch as the story.

So go dig in. Take an assignment. Pick up your notebook and get out of the newsroom.

Now this is a valuable community

Reuters starts a MySpace for stock-pickers. Said Reuters head Tom Glocer: “It won’t have the latest hot videos and the ‘why I am into Metallica and the Arctic Monkeys’ blogs. Instead we are going to give our financial services users the ability to post their research or if they are traders, their trading models.” It’s a great move. Pity that other brands with communities already buzzing around them didn’t come to this first: The Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, Business Week, CNBC, and on and on. They already have the people gathered around, interested in stocks; they have the wise crowd and the magnet that draws them. When I say that magazines and other media brands should be opening the windows and enabling the people to talk through them to each other to gather and share what they want, this is what I mean. Good on Reuters.

The real networked journalism

Bakersfield’s collaborative pothole map. [via Squared]