Networked journalism: Gathering data

Robert Niles has a textbook example of the power of networked journalism: And LA Times reporter was trying to unlock the mystery of Amazon’s changing prices on items and Niles points out that the readers could offer a lot of data to make the story complete. They just need a way to do that. And they need to be asked.

What the Times needed was a way for associates like me to append our data to Streitfeld’s report. That way, the Times’ reporter and its readers could, together, draw a more detailed picture of Amazon’s pricing patterns. Are price adjustments based upon time an item spends in a user’s shopping cart? Or do prices move with the calendar?

Unfortunately, the Times website [full disclosure, again, especially for new OJR readers, I used to work there] does not offer a way for readers to post relevant data to a database that could test Streitfeld’s hypothesis. Nor does it even provide a way for a reader to append a simple comment to the story, where readers like me could add our experiences.

“Citizen journalism” provides professional reporters the chance to collect many more data points than they can on their own. And “mainstream media” provide readers an established, popular distribution channel for the information we have and can collect. Not to mention a century of wisdom on sourcing, avoiding libel and narrative storytelling technique.

Gathering data is an obvious starting point for networked journalism: The task is clear, the value of more data is obvious. And the willingness of people to contribute is proven.

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  • “Gathering data” should’ve been the starting point for antique journalism as well, not to mention just about every other endeavor in life.

  • I believe iReporters and Networked Journalism will increasingly expand as more and more people realize the personal power of the ‘press’. I can see a future of intricately intertwined information and data gathering that massively articulates more of the ‘truth’ instead of ‘spin’. It is high time we, as the people, take the power back from the conglomerate called mainstream media and their big business sponsors and special interests and get the news we deserve, or I should say the ‘Truth’ we deserve.

    Great article.

  • As I blog more and more, I am starting to approach my blogs as a journalist.
    I’ve been contacting the source companies that I blog about instead of just reading rehashed information from others sites and blogs.

    I figured that this is what the big news companies do.. They get the story, but then have to fact check the info.

    Gathering credible data makes a blog/site more valuable to readers.

  • I don’t think that the “networked journalism” reporting method is anything new. Polling has been around for a long time, and is a great method for uncovering certain types of information.

    Reporters haven’t take polls too often because it can be very time-consuming. The Internet simply makes the whole process a little easier and faster, and thus a better tool for journalism.

  • Ethan

    Wait–is this about Iraq? Mr. Jarvis, have you simply stopped writing about the topic since the facts don’t allow you to demonize others, anymore? Too ashamed?

    If you still believe in the war, tell us. If not, tell us that. At least Andrew Sullivan is man enough to apologize. Why haven’t you? Or at the least: why don’t you even talk about it?

  • Professional journalism is slowly giving way to citizen journalism and it’s changing the way news is covered. Evolving is a much better way of saying it. Instead of local newspapers or major television stations watch-dogging important public figures, everyone has the ability to watchdog everyone else. The public now is talking about them, fact-checking them, overlooking them. My only concern is the the public using this new “power” in a responsible manner. If they are the new journalists, then they need to follow some of journalists code of conduct such as unbiased reporting.

  • Iran can also refuse to send the used cores back to Russia and to use them for manufacture of plutonium. If Russia will stop deliveries of nuclear fuel, Iran can buy it from China or enrich own uranium.