Crowdsourcing journalism: The New York Times experiments
Do many hands make light work, or too many cooks spoil the broth? The age-old debate about the merits of delegating and the dangers of over-delegating might seem only distantly related to journalism, a profession defined by the notion of lonely hacks tramping the streets for leads or else hunched over a typewriter tapping out their findings.
But if newspapers are going to survive the ongoing perfect storm of falling ad budgets, declining circulation and the residual pressures of operating in a recession, sharing the responsibility for sourcing, researching and maybe even writing stories is a concept which journalists are going to have to get used to.
So, though it’s certainly not the first example of this kind of endeavour (that plaudit perhaps goes to Assignment Zero), The New York Times has taken a big step in the direction of crowdsourcing journalism today, with the release of 658 pages of the diary of US Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner, from his time as president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The Grey Lady’s editors have removed all references to personal addresses and phone numbers, and contributed a fair number of their own observations, but they’re asking for help from the paper’s online readership in combing the release, obtained by a Freedom of Information request, to try and find any stories they might have missed; already unearthed is Geithner’s previously unknown involvement in "backing a controversial temporary ban on shortselling." Eagle-eyed citizen journalists are encouraged to post their findings here.
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