My CUNY colleague Sandeep Junnarkar — who makes magnificent multimedia journalism at Lives in Focus, where he last reported on AIDS in India — is embarking on his next project: the impact on families when one of your own is behind bars. He’s already getting amazing reporting. But to realize his full ambition, he needs to raise money to loan video cameras to the families so they can document their experiences. It’s easy to contribute through Have Money Will Vlog, which enables networked journalism by helping you to support these projects. I just gave. Won’t you?
Major props to Bob Cox, founder of the Media Bloggers Association, for getting recognition on page 1 of the New York Times today for his single-minded and single-handed effort to get bloggers accredited to cover federal trials: Libby’s is the first.
: LATER: As some commenters make bluntly clear, I was apparently wrong attributing the accreditation to Bob’s single-handed work. FiredDog, they say, lobbied hard. No conspiracy here, folks (and certainly no sexism.. jeesh!). I was just aware of Bob’s hard work as the process went on. Congrats to all. No need for growling about it.
Nice example of networked journalism from David Pogue in The Times today: He wanted to puncture the megapixel myth of cameras and set about to test whether people could tell the difference of a few million pixels in a large print. While reporting the story, he blogged it and his readers objected to his methodology. And so he threw out the challenge to beat what he did and one reader/photographer did. And in the end, Pogue was able to quote what consumers said about all this. So by opening up his story, it improved it. And by adding effort and reporting, he improved the conversation. Everbody wins.
At yesterday’s panel here about user-generated content, I quoted Dave Winer’s comment on my blog post about the last such panel I’d attended, at Davos: Here’s a panel with no users generating content. This, I said, was symbolic of the state of the discussion: All the big, old guys still act like closed products, not open networks. I asked whether they could. In the discussion that followed, one of the panelists asked Chris Ahearn of Reuters whether they were ready to open up their source material. He said they did. No, said the fellow panelist: giving people source documents so they can remix and report and find more. Ahearn said he’d ask his editor. I liked that exchange.
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.