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Mainstream Media To Start "Crowdsourcing" 158

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the god-i-hate-buzzwords dept.
guanxi writes "Gannett, one of the largest newspaper publishers in the U.S., plans to change its newsrooms to utilize Crowdsourcing, a new term for something Slashdot readers have been familiar with for years: \From the article, they will 'use crowdsourcing methods to put readers to work as watchdogs, whistle-blowers and researchers in large, investigative features.' Last summer, the The News-Press in Fort Myers, Florida asked readers to help investigate a local scandal. The response was overwhelming: 'Readers spontaneously organized their own investigations: Retired engineers analyzed blueprints, accountants pored over balance sheets, and an inside whistle-blower leaked documents showing evidence of bid-rigging.' Public service isn't their only concern, of course: 'We've learned that no one wants to read a 400-column-inch investigative feature online. But when you make them a part of the process they get incredibly engaged.' Is this the beginning of a revolution at major media organizations? Can they successfully duplicate what online communities have been doing for years?"
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Mainstream Media To Start "Crowdsourcing"

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  • ... Glad that's cleared that up then ...

    Next article please.

     
  • Oh boy (Score:3, Funny)

    by Durrok (912509) <calltechsucks&gmail,com> on Sunday November 05, 2006 @12:26PM (#16726201) Homepage Journal
    I can't wait to see the newspapers quoting things like "Our top contributer 'I3tospooge' reports..." and "Breaking news from ObiwanMcCartney..."
    • Maybe, if I3tospooge is a staunch supporter of the current administration. Otherwise, Fox News won't use his report...
      • by krell (896769)
        Yes, we know Fox News never [thenation.com] has reports or correspondents that criticize the current administration.
  • by 0racle (667029)
    They're not doing any work anymore and have convinced people to not only do their work for them, but pay the paper to read the final results. Is that what's going on here?
    • Re:So (Score:4, Insightful)

      by creimer (824291) on Sunday November 05, 2006 @12:43PM (#16726401) Homepage
      It's old media trying to make themselves relevant in today's jargon-filled world. The term "crowdsourcing" is another excuse for the corporate owners to avoid putting money into investigation teams that take a hard look at society to knock over some apple carts, make readers want to buy their product, and win prizes for good old fashion journalism.
    • by Jugalator (259273)
      Sounds like the wonderful spiral of economy to me, with it requiring an ever increasing profit.

      Cutting journalist costs sounds like the logical next step to me...

      I guess it's the newspaper variant of reality shows. Have regular people star in your TV shows for minimal payment (often just the winner get anything to speak of) in comparison to the income from very frequent advertising. The next step from having celebrities star in various TV entertainment -- just let regular people do who're often more than pl
    • Definition of Web 2.0: A system in which the users generate all the content, and the site operator keeps all the profits.
      • I think if they are making profits by enabling user generated content instead of printing the corporate line, we (the users) win. The alternative is keeping the profits and limiting users input, printing thinly veiled ads and in general being almost worthless to us. We win if we let them provide the infrastructure, keep the profits and we produce the content. We will become less dependent on meganews for our information and it truly will become fair and balanced. If in the end we can reduce the amount of pe
  • by ScentCone (795499) on Sunday November 05, 2006 @12:27PM (#16726231)
    And if enough Citizen Researchers say so, by golly, we'll have a witch burning! I mean, if the crowd says so, it's got to be true! Also, the crowd can just edit the related entries on Wikipedia and make it true, with footnotes.

    Um... or are we still using editors before we go public with this stuff? And, does that mean that we're still talking about having to check sources, understand the legal ramifications of publishing stuff, and all of that old stodgy professional behavior? So, really, this is just about making things sensational enough to get a lot of people to volunteer to do the basic research that staffers used to do?
    • by anagama (611277)
      Exactly right. The first thing that crossed my mind was that this is some kind of vigilantism.
      • by krell (896769)
        "Exactly right. The first thing that crossed my mind was that this is some kind of vigilantism."

        How can exercise of First Amendment rights (in the form of amateur journalism) be equated with amateur police?
        • How can exercise of First Amendment rights (in the form of amateur journalism) be equated with amateur police

          The analogy actually isn't too far off the mark. One of the points of having a free press is to 'police' the government -- making sure that people know about the goings on in government. Without the press, we wouldn't have known about things about Mark Foley hitting on his male interns via IM and we wouldn't know about the scandals involving many others in power, such as Tom Delay.

          Knowledge of thes

          • by krell (896769)
            "One of the points of having a free press is to 'police' the government -- making sure that people know about the goings on in government."

            Really? Yet, nothing about that is mentioned in the defense of the "free press". Thus, press/speech that criticizes the government is treated no better and no worse than free speech that praises the government. No difference. I actually have seen many people demand censorship of news organizations that they perceive to be pro-government, on the idea that such speech s
      • by crmartin (98227)
        Feh. First off, were you under the impression that the First Amendment only applies to officially-approved reporters? Or that newspapers have some collection of special powers not among those reserved to the regular population?

        But more to the point, it's not "vigilanism" for "amateur police" to report a crime.

        Assuming you're old enough to vote, kindly don't until you get a clue.
      • by daeg (828071)
        Except most newspapers already do this, albeit with the words "allegedly", "supposedly", and "probably" intermixed as at least one-third of the column inches in an article and every questionable line is in quotation marks from an "anonymous source" or an "officer close with the investigation" (etc). Some papers are bigger offenders than others.

        And all of the Gannett newspapers (and broadcast stations) already do this "crowdsourcing", although not so explicitly or as openly as the article details. Many artic
        • by krell (896769)
          "many of which are in tiny markets where they hold near monopolies (as most local newspapers are)."

          Can you identify such markets? Most all that I have checked out have several newspapers, and there is thus no monopoly.
          • by daeg (828071)
            Go look at some of the papers Gannett owns in Wisconsin and Ohio. I guess "many" was too strong, though, I thought there were more than a handful.

            Looking more closely at Gannett properties, I'm surprised there aren't more duopolies. I know the other big media groups are buying up competing companies in the dense markets (e.g., one newspaper and one television station). The biggest duopoly that I think Gannett has is the KUSA and KTVD, two competing television stations, both in Denver.
            • by krell (896769)
              "The biggest duopoly that I think Gannett has is the KUSA and KTVD, two competing television stations, both in Denver."

              I counted the newspapers in Denver and stopped counting at 6. There's 6 or so stations, and unless Gannett owns all or most of them, how can there be anything "-opoly" in this less-than-majority media share they have?

              I checked out Wisconsin. Picked at random Wisconsin Rapids as the first small market to check. Yes, they do have the only locally made paper there. However, I bet if you
    • "And, does that mean that we're still talking about having to check sources.... and all of that old stodgy professional behavior?"

      The old style media was so >good [cbsnews.com] at that, right?
      • by ScentCone (795499)
        The old style media was so good at that, right?

        Happily, I wasn't confusing Dan Rather and his producer with being in any way professional. Um, other than being professional political operatives, in that case.
        • by krell (896769)
          "Happily, I wasn't confusing Dan Rather and his producer with being in any way professional"

          Dan Rather, however, is a major representative of the old-school journalism, with all of its rock-solid research, that is being defended here. You know what? I have a mini-DVD that someone taped live with a camcorder during some of Dan Rather's early studio appearances in the mid-1970s that will prove it.
  • Yes, you can get some real information out of people ... but you'll have to wade through pure crap to get to it.

    And every fool with an agenda (space aliens, government cover-ups, etc) will be spewing their own brand of "information".

    It isn't that the mass of humanity is better equipped to provide this information. It is that the news organizations are now no better trained in journalism or research than your average TV watcher.
    • by krell (896769)
      "Yes, you can get some real information out of people ... but you'll have to wade through pure crap to get to it."

      There was never a time that Sturgeon's Law did not apply.

      "It is that the news organizations are now no better trained in journalism or research than your average TV watcher."

      Yeah. It's not like a trained experienced proper journalist would knowingly air and stand behind a story based on faked documents on a major network news show!

      "And every fool with an agenda (space aliens, govern
      • Yeah. It's not like a trained experienced proper journalist would knowingly air and stand behind a story based on faked documents on a major network news show!

        I never said that they were perfect. But for every story like that you can find, I can link to 1,000 nut cases on the 'web.

        So? Welcome to freedom of the press!

        Again, that's for making my point. Freedom of the Press means that the government cannot stop you from printing your fantasies about space aliens. But Democracy requires an informed public. And

        • by krell (896769)
          "And when newspapers stop funding their own research and turn to those space alien conspiracy nut cases for their material, the public is no longer informed."

          But those who believe in the space alien stuff will consider themselves even more informed. This has nothing to do with democracy.
          • But those who believe in the space alien stuff will consider themselves even more informed. This has nothing to do with democracy.

            And you are the perfect example of the flaw in your approach.

            This has EVERYTHING to do with Democracy. It isn't whether any person or group of people considers him/themselves to be "more informed". It matters whether they ARE more informed.

            Democracy depends upon the participation of informed citizens. When you take away that "informed", Democracy fails. That is why every totalita

            • Democracy is about how the people influence government by voting, running for office, or participating in referendums. It is not about whether people argue about space aliens or not.

              Totalitarians crack down on the media because totalitarians are very vain: they don't want anyone to say anything bad about them (whether or not anyone is "informed"). In fact, it has absolutely nothing to do with whether anyone is informed or not.

              Also, there is a huge degree of subjectivity over whether someone is "inform
            • by dsanfte (443781)
              I'm genuinely curious. You seem to hold 'democracy' to be good-in-itself. Inherently good, I might say.

              What is your justification for this? Many travesties have been started democratically. Can you prove democracy is an inherent good?
            • by krell (896769)
              You seem to lack an understanding of free speech rights. In the United States Bill of Rights, and in later documents such as the UN Declaration of Human Rights, these rights are inherent to human beings. They were not put there in order to have the right influence to serve someone's idea of what government should be (of what a "democratic government" should be). They are just there. This is an important distinction, lest someone think the less of certain free speech because it does not serve the cause of a
    • by xs650 (741277)
      "Yes, you can get some real information out of people ... but you'll have to wade through pure crap to get to it."

      This is slash dot, you're stating the obvious.
  • When I was a kid, we called this being a snitch, and it was the easiest and surest way to make people hate you.
    • by Dunbal (464142)
      When I was a kid, we called this being a snitch,

            Why citizen, how unpatriotic. Don't you understand that criminals are really hurting the children and helping the terrorists win? It is your duty to turn in your fellow citizen to the party for re-education. You're not a terrorist, are you?
    • by NoseBag (243097)
      ...but we adults call this "public service" and praise it. I think it's called something like "moral integrity'.
  • by Perseid (660451)
    ...the newspapers tried to get away with half-assed research and now they're trying to get away with none at all? Really, will they pay this 'crowd' anything?
    • by j-pimp (177072)
      Really, will they pay this 'crowd' anything?
      If they will do it for free why pay them? If that mean the news gets worse, don't buy that paper. Newspapers these days rely on wire services like AP. However, there are some news papers like the Christian Science Monitor that do their own reporting. People that appreciate that use their services. Is anyone forcing you to read these papers or work for them for free? Whats your problem?
  • 'Cause if they all say it's true, it has to be.

    *snerk*

  • Newspapers will win (Score:2, Interesting)

    by symes (835608)
    When it comes to crowd-sourcing the main stream media *should* win hands down. Established media, in particular some newspapers, have a better reputation when it comes to protecting sources compared to ISPs, for example.
  • So, with the masses doing your leg work... who needs to pay a smart reporter with contacts and experience?

    And to think, they want to SELL subscriptions to Crowdsourcing publications? Yeah, right...
    • How stupid can you get. That'd be like selling "subscriptions" to Slashdot. It'll never happen.
  • Recently, an organization with the goal of creating a discourse on changing election day has offered to pay people to do their dirty work.

    http://www.getoutthewhy.com/weblog/

    The will pay you $300 to ask a house representative why we vote on Tuesday, and $500 for a senate member or a governor. To get the reward, you must post a video of the transaction on youtube. Its a pretty cool idea.
  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Sunday November 05, 2006 @01:11PM (#16726681) Homepage Journal
    Gannett is also the owner/publisher of the various Military Times [wikipedia.org] newspapers.

    Tomorrow, the day before the US Congressional election, all the Military Times individual papers will publish a rare joint editorial calling for the immediate resignation of Donald Rumsfeld [sfgate.com], the US Defense Secretary. I don't know that those military papers have ever called for a Defense Sect'y to resign before, and surely not the day before an election. That editorial is aligned with its military readers, rather than its Pentagon and military contractor "suppliers" who both support Rumsfeld, and often report to him.

    It looks like Gannett is choosing to plug in directly to its consumers to survive the ongoing shakeout of plummeting newspaper circulation [latimes.com]. The real question about the "revolution" at major newspapers is not whether these Gannett moves are the beginning, but rather whether they're an exit strategy, and whether to victory.
    • by Keebler71 (520908)
      I don't know that those military papers have ever called for a Defense Sect'y to resign before, and surely not the day before an election.

      Actually, they have [cnn.com]. More to the point, they have called for Rumsfeld to resign before (at the height of Abu Gharab). The military times denies the timing of this had anything to do with the election, however, given that they have already asked from Rumsfelds resignation - I find that argument rather weak.

      • by Doc Ruby (173196)
        More to which point, that the Military Times has been calling for Rumsfeld's resignation for a while, but he's still doing even worse?

        The point that they deny the timing has to do with the election, when their editor said "it was inspired after Bush's stated earlier this week [cnn.com] that he wants Rumsfeld and Vice President Dick Cheney in their posts through the end of his term."?

        When they already called for his resignation outside "election season" (whenever that is, now that Republicans do nothing but campaign t
        • by krell (896769)
          "When they already called for his resignation outside "election season" (whenever that is, now that Republicans do nothing but campaign their entire term)?"

          Both parties abuse the power of incumbency to campaign; neither is worse than the other. That's why I lean more and more toward the idea of a term limit of one single term.
          • by Doc Ruby (173196)
            It's clear to me that Republican incumbency abuse solely for reelection and cronyism is unprecedented with today's Republican Party.

            But I agree that incumbents have the unfair privilege of campaigning through their term at taxpayer expense, on taxpayer time. Controlling the nuanced difference between campaigning and legitimate constituent communications is much too complex to work by rules. It's supposed to be overbalanced by campaign challengers, who are supposed to expose the endless campaigning of the in
            • by krell (896769)
              "Media control by corporations making deals with incumbents for more media power has ruined the competition between the media and the government"

              Liability laws and other situations encourage any but the smallest businesses and organizations to organize into a corporation. You'd be surprised at how much of the media is run by a corporation: including "Democracy Now".
              • by Doc Ruby (173196)
                I'm not surprised, I just don't like it - or the reasons why it becomes necessary for practically all media control to be corporate.

                In fact, you're talking to a corporation right now, one that I control which owns my Internet connection and other related assets. Again, I don't like it, but I'm not a martyr. OTOH, I don't use my corporations to do bad things with their limited liability. My choice - all too unpopular.
                • by krell (896769)
                  The liability shield would be needed much less if we could block those blatantly frivolous lawsuits. You know, the guy who jumps off a ladder and then successfully sues the ladder company, or the lady who spills coffee in her lap and then successfully sues the company that sold her the coffee. The lawsuits that don't pass the smell test....
                  • by Doc Ruby (173196)
                    I would disbar and probably fine lawyers whose business is producing frivolous lawsuits. Likewise, I would treat lawyers who refuse as "frivolous" meritorious cases they just don't think they can win, because they're not good enough lawyers.

                    Frivolous lawyers get 2 strikes, go on automatic probation, and go under review (a trial). Three strikes and they have to argue in court to defend themselves from disbarment and fines. Lame lawyers claiming "frivolous" to just deny representation should have a similar sy
  • There was the famous layoff at Wired News [com.com], where they laid off all the reporters and kept some of the editors.

    Of course, what happened is that press releases took over. Wired Magazine is now a version of the Sharper Image catalog. Who needs reporters? Content is what fills in the space between the ads. And if you just use press releases for that, nobody notices.

  • by eno2001 (527078)
    Considering the ultra-conservative bias that most of the Slashdotters here have, I can't see this being a good thing in popular media. The right have their fingers in all the pies right now and you can't move an inch without being blasted with right wing lies and propaganda. The left is being incredibly squelched and this mainly has to do with one thing: right wingers are cunning. Note smart, but cunning. They know how to game the system to their advantage regardless of how small their numbers may trul
    • Are you serious? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by krell (896769)
      "Considering the ultra-conservative bias that most of the Slashdotters here have"

      Are you really serious? I've seen those on the left whine about right-wing conspiracies modding them down on Slashdot...and I've seen those on the right whine about left-wing conspiracies modding them down on Slashdot. I've also observed much of the modding behavior applied to overtly political comments: it goes equally both ways. Only a "nutjob" could see such bias in Slashdot. I did not brand you as one: your own conspirac
      • by eno2001 (527078)
        Actually no. I wasn't being completely serious with that statement. Too bad you're not smart enough to read between the lines. I was being hyperbolic. Even though there are just as many people on the left who might do moderation or post commentary in response to a story or other commentary, it's never even within a particular article. It all comes down to how much one side or the other cares to react. Sadly, when there SHOULD be a reaction there may not be. As far as "conspiracy theories" go, why don
        • by krell (896769)
          There's nothing "yuck" about libertarian. Unless you happen to be one of those who sees the phrase "We're from the government and we're here to help you" and gets a happy warm and fuzzy feeling inside. There's also just as much left-wing moderation inside the "same article" as there is right-wing moderation.
          • by eno2001 (527078)
            I don't care who's offering to help as long as they are genuine, honest and sincere about it. If they're lying slimeballs, then it doesn't matter if it's government, religion, business or otherwise, I want them destroyed. The only reason you're here is to help me if I need it and likewise. Anything else and you've completely missed the point of living. Sure, it's fine to look out for yourself too, but get with the program and lend a hand to anyone who needs it.
          • by eno2001 (527078)
            By the way, I also want it clear that I don't care what political affiliation someone has, I don't judge them personally for it. Politics are a very sad and depressing part of life that are forced upon us lest we let people screw us over with important issue. We honestly shouldn't have to worry about this sort of thing if people were just... honest. Regarding you, if there is some common ground on some views between us that we do have, I would have no problem at all befriending you. I'm a very nice guy
    • by cyberscan (676092) *
      "So chomp on this you moronic chimps. I hate every fucking one of you and hope you get what you fucking deserve."

      I was finding myself agreeing until I came to the quote above. Now you have shown yourself to be just another American-hating bigot.
      • by eno2001 (527078)
        Too bad you can't appreciate a little humorous vitriol. Oh well... your loss, not mine. I don't hate REAL Americans BTW. I hate the new empty headed buffoons who THINK they espouse American values. I'm proud to be the old style American that actually gives a damn about the rest of the world and respects their right to live unfettered by our culture.
  • Free labor so newspaper corporations don't have to actually pay for investigative journalism? If I was a CEO of a news corporation, I'd think this was a brillant idea too. It's the equivalent of reality TV for newspapers.

    It's one thing to contribute to a project with an free license that everyone can benefit from. This kind of cooperation might one day save the world.

    I don't see any harm in being in a corpoation run community such as Slashdot and making some off the cuff remarks. It's a kind of social exch
  • They used to call these guys "reporters". They would do this thing called "research", to find a "story" and "blow the whistle" on people who were trying to "screw the public".

    These days though, all the "reporters" are just going after stories that are fed to them by government or corporate press releases, and are totally uninterested in what we used to call "sticking it to the man". So maybe, this is a *good* thing.
  • www.seconddraft.org/movies.php
  • by edmicman (830206) on Sunday November 05, 2006 @03:05PM (#16727681) Homepage Journal
    at a concert. I lost my shoe and my wallet. Last time I did that again....
    • "at a concert. I lost my shoe and my wallet. Last time I did that again"

      Oh. that was YOU??? I found the shoe and the wallet. I opened it and found your name and phone number alright, but I looked at the single shoe and considered that its likely came from a peg-legged man, like a pirate. And I was going to be damned if I was going to make the acquaintance of a pirate just to give the wallet back.

      I quite enjoyed the remaining Seinfeld DVD boxed sets I bought with the cash.
  • They are called "freelance writers" and "tipsters."
    • "Is there ANYBODY working in Lite-On's warranty department?"

      You found me. I'm sorry, I've not been in the office. I went on lunch break at 11:30 on May 18th 2002 and have not returned yet. That explains while your phone call has not been answered.

      I am quite happy to help you with your problem, however. Most problems with our DVD burners happen when you place DVDs inside them and/or connect them to an electrical source. In fact, both activites violate the warranty.

      You did not know this? It was print
  • They have regular segments where they check in on the "blogosphere" and iFilm/iReport.

    Why do I have a strange feeling that Faux News won't be doing this...

  • This sounds like Project Gutenberg Distributed Proofreading.

    Every now and then, I log into Project Gutenberg Distributed Proofreading [pgdp.net]. There, I proofread a couple of scanned pages and then leave it at that for a few weeks. It's not much but that's OK; it's the power of numbers that kicks in.
  • I'm totally confused by the responses I've read to this article. Everyone is immediately jumping to the idea of vigilantism and the corporate newspapers outsourcing their investigations for free. Remember that saying about those willing to give up their freedom for a little percieved safety deserving neither? Well, people who are not willing to be involved with investigations of local government deserve to be financially raped by the same.

    I've been a member of a church at several times that was transitio

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