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Tag Archive: Distributed reporting

Blogs on Blogs v. Newspapers

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Bill posted earlier about the exciting new journalism project that Jay Rosen, associate prof at the journalism school of my alma mater NYU, is undertaking. There are many perspectives out there in the blogs and in the traditional media about Rosen’s efforts to bridge the gap between citizen journalism and professional journalism and about the role of blogs versus the traditional newspaper. Daniel Schorr recently told a USA Today reporter that he finds bloggers “scary” because “there is no publisher, no editor, no anything. It's just you and a little machine and you can make history.” To some that may be scary, for others it’s the future.

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Adapting Journalism to the Internet Age

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There are some exciting new experiments being launched to improve the quality of journalism, and not a moment too soon. As many others have noted, the economics of the traditional news businesses aren't especially good. Producing high quality enterprise and investigative journalism--real, in-depth, original reporting--is a fairly labor intensive undertaking, and that in many ways isn't financially rewarding: If I spend two years unearthing something and publish it, the news itself can be picked up by the Associated Press and other wire services, published in other newspapers, broadcast on television and radio, and linked by and excerpted onto multiple blogs. If the Philadelphia Inquirer (where I once worked) devotes countless man hours, salary and expenses to breaking a story, readers don't have to buy that paper (let alone subscribe to it) to get the news -- the economic awards, such as they are, are as often as not realized elsewhere. It's a great system for the public, but the for-profit media companies that pay the salaries of reporters, editors and photographers who do the grunt work digging out the story have shown themselves to be less and less willing to foot the bill.

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Rebranding Citizen Journalism

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Jeff Jarvis had an interesting post the other day in which he grappled for an appropriate term for what he alternately calls citizen journalism, citizen media, networked journalism, and distributed journalism (me, I like citizen muckraking and distributed reporting, but what do I know?). Jarvis writes,

In networked journalism, the public can get involved in a story before it is reported, contributing facts, questions, and suggestions. The journalists can rely on the public to help report the story; we’ll see more and more of that, I trust. The journalists can and should link to other work on the same story, to source material, and perhaps blog posts from the sources (see: Mark Cuban). After the story is published — online, in print, wherever — the public can continue to contribute corrections, questions, facts, and perspective … not to mention promotion via links. I hope this becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy as journalists realize that they are less the manufacturers of news than the moderators of conversations that get to the news.

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To Volunteers Investigating Congress

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The thoughtful, enthusiastic responses to our request for citizens to investigate members of Congress by reading their personal financial disclosures have been coming in fast (and thanks to all who linked to the original post). I'm about to head out the door (literally) for a week out of the office, but before I do I wanted to thank everyone who's written me, and if I haven't written you back yet, I will next week when I return. In the meantime, though, you might want to read the rest of this post for advice on how to get started, what to look for, and what to do.

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Moran’s Earmarks

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I've been so busy talking about House Speaker Dennis Hastert's land deals, reading and working on replies to a ton of wonderful responses from citizen journalists (I kind of like "Citizen Muckraker" better, but that's just me) to our request for help in investigating Congress (about which more soon) that I've missed the party on Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va., who represents me in the House. Glenn Reynolds highlights a Washington Post piece (which ran in the Business Section, which was a little odd) about Moran's securing $37 million for a company that tried to develop magnetic technology that would make submarines less easily detected. In the end, the company tried to develop magnetic technology to make the small boats Navy SEALS use (which can be dangerous in rough seas) safer; instead, the Navy chose to buy better seats to keep the SEALS safe. Sounds almost like the company, an Alexandria, Va.-based firm called Vibration & Sound Solutions Ltd., had a solution in search of a problem. The company's president and his wife donated $17,000 to Moran.

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