Posts about networkedjournalism

The energy of the crowd

Brian Lehrer’s show on WNYC radio is releasing the results of its second effort to mobilize its audience to report. The last time, it was counting SUVs. This time it’s more useful: The show assigned its audience to go out and report back the price of three commodities where they shop: milk, beer, and iceberg lettuce. Jim Colgan, one of the show’s producers, just emailed me the results and they’ll be discussing them Monday morning. Jim writes:

We got over 350 contributions and we’ve mapped all the prices on our site. When the show page goes live in the morning, you’ll be able to click on the icons for any of the items and see the price, the name of the store, the address, and the listener’s comment. Here are the top line numbers based on what our listeners reported:

Most expensive milk: Crown Heights, Brooklyn (2.99 for a quart)
Least expensive place for milk: Gravesend, Brooklyn (99 cents for a quart)

Most expensive place to get beer (6 pack of Budweiser): Greenport, NY (14.99)
Least expensive place for beer: Redhook Fairway (4.49)

Most expensive place to get lettuce (iceberg): Tribeca (3.49)
Least expensive for lettuce: Wayne, NJ (0.79)

: UPDATE: Just got followup email from Jim saying that they pulled the segment before today because some of the numbers didn’t sound right. This is, indeed, an issue with crowdsourced reporting. I think one needs to get to a critical mass of data such that data confirm data and the outliers are either good stories or should be checked or sometimes ignored. Lessons to be learned.

The blogroom

I’m woefully behind in my blogging thanks to doing things like organizing my networked journalism conference at CUNY — so I’m doubly behind blogging about the conference. But I wanted to point to Dave Winer’s post with a suggestion I, too, have been talking about for sometime: opening up a newsroom to bloggers. I’ve talked about the need to turn newsrooms into classrooms (where both tribes learn). Looking forward to exploring that.

By the way, the conference is way oversubscribed already (and I was nervous we wouldn’t get enough people with experience and interest in the field).

: While I’m linking to Dave, he argues that the social network is the same as the social graph and so we should keep calling it a network because it’s a much clearer description and less geeky and annoying. I agree.

The Networked Journalism Summit

Here, at last, is a full description of the Networked Journalism Summit we’ve been organizing at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. I’m really excited about the event: a great list of people participating, many best practices and lessons to share, lots of possibility for new efforts to come out of the meeting:

* * *

The Networked Journalism Summit — bringing together the best practices and practitioners in collaborative, pro-am journalism — will be held on Oct. 10 at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism, thanks to a grant from the MacArthur Foundation.

This is a day about action: next steps, new projects, new partnerships, new experiments. The first two-thirds of the day will be devoted to sharing lessons, ideas, and plans with a representative sample of different kinds of efforts, hyperlocal to national to international, with participants from big and small media, from editorial and business, from the U.S., Canada, the U.K, Germany, and France. The last third of the day will be devoted to what’s next, with participants meeting to come up with new collaborations.

What makes this meeting different? We hope this does:
* It’s about action and next steps, not talk.
* The panel discussions will be discussions, not presentations. Every session will start with very brief introductions and then go immediately to discussion from the entire room.
* This is made possible by write-ups of the work being done by everyone in the room that will be distributed before the meeting. David Cohn is reporting some of these (and they are beginning to appear on this blog); the participants will submit more. This give everyone a headstart and lets them get right to their questions. You can read these starting now at the summit blog.
* We will followup on the actions pledged by the participants with reports on progress that will be shared on this blog.
* No MSM-bashing or blog-bashing allowed. We’ll gong it off. This is about working together. The snarking is over.
We hope people leave with a lot of new information and inspiration, with new partners, and with new steps to take to spread journalism in their communities.

The premise of all this is that even as journalistic organizations may shrink, along with their revenue bases, journalism itself can and must expand and it will do that through collaborative work. The internet makes that collaboration possible and we’ve barely begun to explore the opportunities it affords. A year or two ago, the point of such a meeting might have been evangelizing this idea. But in that time, a number of great projects in collaborative, networked journalism have taken off. So now is the time to share the lessons — success and failures — from these efforts and to determine what’s needed to move on to the next goals. By bringing together about 150 practitioners from all sides, we hope that the meeting itself can spark new partnerships and projects.

Among the sessions planned:
* Sharing experience from hyperlocal projects.
* Early efforts to make money at this: ad networks, print publications (ironically), independent businesses.
* International efforts from the UK and Germany.
* Reports from visible projects, including Gannett’s reorganization of its newsrooms around citizen participation, Jay Rosen’s experience with NewAssignment.net, and Now Public.
* Video and broadcast projects.
* Projects built around data as news.
* New tools.
* Political efforts.

In the afternoon, the participants will split into groups — local east or west, national, business, multimedia, revenue, tools, and other groups that form at the meeting — to pledge next steps. After reporting back to the meeting as a whole on these promised efforts, all will be rewarded with wine.

We have a great cross-section of different kinds of efforts, different models, and different locales. There is room for a few more. If you are interested in attending, please email David Cohn, who has been doing a great job organizing the conference and the information around it: [email protected].

The meeting will begin at the auditorium in the new New York Times headquarters on 40th Street and 8th Avenue in New York. It will then move next door to the new CUNY Graduate School of Journalism at 219 W. 40th Street, New York.

This meeting is made possible entirely through a grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The summit is organized by Jeff Jarvis, who heads the interactive journalism program at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism and blogs on journalism and media at Buzzmachine.com. The school has just begun its second year as the only publicly supported school of journalism in the Northeast.

The next meeting at CUNY, early next year, will focus on new business models for news.

Group hug: The big cooperation

Very good posting for a position at the City University of London: for a doctoral student to work with Sky News and an army of citizen journalists. Now that’s bringing worlds together.

This project affords excellent opportunities to explore concepts around citizen journalism in the mainstream news media, using a case study approach and participant observation.

For the first year of their PhD the appointee will work closely with Sky News on an innovative project to recruit several hundred “citizen journalists” to report on the next UK general election campaign. The project aims to allow contributors to do more than simply give their opinion; instead they will be expected to write stories, take pictures and possibly record video.

The appointee’s role would be to work closely with Sky News to recruit suitable contributors, mentor them and guide them in creating the right sort of content, and manage their contributions. The appointee will be responsible for ensuring that there is a broad mix of contributors in terms of party affiliation, background and expertise. The successful candidate will also be involved in the development of the website to best support the project and ensure that the material is used to its best advantage. The role requires editorial initiative, a nose for news, an understanding of what makes compelling online content and familiarity with the social networking community.

(Full disclosure: I’ve been consulting with SkyNews.)

Jimmy Journalists

My Guardian column this week argues that what Jimmy Justice does, videotaping errant traffic cops, is vigilante journalism, but journalism nonetheless. (nonregistration version here) Snippet:

So here’s the question: is what Jimmy Justice does journalism? Consider: he is performing the watchdog function of journalism, holding government and its agents to account. He is recording facts; his video camera – oscillating between the no-parking signs and the cops’ licence plates and badges – does not lie. He is asking tough questions. Then he shares what he learns. . . .

But Jimmy’s not slick, he’s sloppily dressed, he has a grating accent and manner, and his camera wobbles. In short, he’s unprofessional.

Aren’t journalists supposed to be professional? Not necessarily. Not anymore. That is precisely what the professional class – in many trades – fears from the internet: it enables the amateurs. And that’s not always pretty. Institutional journalism considers its ability to package – to make things look neat and complete – a key value. But that expectation was really just a necessity of the tools of production: you have one chance to print this story, so make it good. In truth, a news story is a process to which many can now contribute. Life is messy. So is reporting on it. . . .

But I still say that if we care about a watched government and an informed society, then the response to Jimmy shouldn’t be to scold him but perhaps to teach him. Indeed, a commenter on my blog suggested a gadget for Jimmy that would help him hold his camera steadier. Perhaps journalistic organisations should arm a thousand Jimmys with cameras and microphones. Perhaps they should assign the public to report alongside the professionals, to gather more news than could ever be gathered before. Maybe, just maybe, this is an element of a new means – and one new business model – of news: armies of Jimmy Journalists.

MORE: Or they could be Johan Journalists. Martin Stabe says that the German tabloid Bild has used more than 400,000 photos sent readers via their mobile phones and that politicians aren’t happy about it. That must mean they’re doing something right. (Full story auf Deutsch here.) Here’s a key to it: The paper pays €500 if the picture gets in the national edition, €100 in a regional edition. Still cheaper than having 2,500 photographers on staff all over the country.