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Open Source Journalism 347

jvm writes "Markos of Daily Kos wrote today of what he describes as the legacy of blogging: open source. Not software, but the philosophy. From the article: "When I'm asked about blogging's legacy, I talk about open source. Open source politics, open source activism, open source journalism -- the aggregation of thousands on behalf of a common cause." Relatedly, egoff writes "You might have seen some coverage of Jeff Gannon, a conservative reporter who lobbed softball questions during White House press briefings. It was discovered that he was using an alias to get past White House security. The language of open source development is used throughout their description of the reporting process. At Poynter Online, journalists discussing this story have compared the random blog readers who did the bulk of this research to "what Woodstein did back in the day.""
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Open Source Journalism

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  • Open source?? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by CurlyG ( 8268 ) on Friday February 11, 2005 @06:59PM (#11647600)
    In what way was the embaressing tale of Gannon related to open source journalism? From everything I've heard about it he was a completely deliberate right-wing plant.

    About the only question he didn't ask was

    Mr. Burns, your campaign seems to have the
    momentum of a runaway freight train. Why are you so popular?
    • Re:Open source?? (Score:4, Informative)

      by argmanah ( 616458 ) <{argmanah} {at} {}> on Friday February 11, 2005 @07:04PM (#11647651)
      In what way was the embaressing tale of Gannon related to open source journalism?
      To answer your question, you need but read the article linked to in the story. Basically, the reason Gannon was exposed is because so many Bloggers (open source journalists) started writing about it, until there were so many articles about it on blogs that the mainstream media had no choice but to pick up the story.

      The Gannon story is just an example of the power of open source journalism.
      • Re:Open source?? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by mcc ( 14761 )
        Basically, the reason Gannon was exposed is because so many Bloggers (open source journalists) started writing about it, until there were so many articles about it on blogs that the mainstream media had no choice but to pick up the story.

        Sounds exactly like how right-wing talk radio worked in the 90s.

        Of course, the Gannon thing is actually true, as opposed to the stories about Bill Clinton shooting DNC chairman Ron Brown in the back of the head. But truth doesn't really matter here. What matters is that
        • Re:Open source?? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by pcidevel ( 207951 ) on Friday February 11, 2005 @07:48PM (#11648098)
          I'm very pissed at Kos for writing this today because for the last several weeks I've been intending to write in my dKos Diary about how the blogging of the Left has open sourced politics.

          It's no where near exactly like right-wing radio in the 90s if you ask me, because right-wing radio still required a huge (and expensive) infrastructure that is no longer needed.

          The real news behind the Gannon story isn't that bloggers blogged about it, but that it was mainly the work of blog READERS. It wasn't Kos or Atrios that really broke the story, it was the people who post comments and diaries at their sites. Those comments and diaries can be posted by anyone, so journalism is becoming much more open source. Regular people post comments, the best of those comments filter through to the site admins, the best of the stuff from the various sites filters through to the mainstream media.

          I'm hoping that Dean realizes this is the OTHER legacy of his "sleepless summer", not only has he taken the Democrats back to real grass-roots fund raising, but he has also inadvertantly created the setup needed for open sourcing the message of the Democratic party. Instead of needing one brilliant campaign advisor with all the best ideas in the world, the Democrats now have thousands of relatively mediocre campaign advisors who each may have only one great idea. But if you can skim the Great Ideas from those people who otherwise have mediocre ideas the rest of the time, you end up with a deluge of Great Ideas, much more than any one brilliant campaign advisor will ever be able to give you. It's exactly the Cathedral and the Bazaar, but taken from the arena of computers and moved into politics.
          • It's no where near exactly like right-wing radio in the 90s if you ask me, because right-wing radio still required a huge (and expensive) infrastructure that is no longer needed.

            So what's up with all those donate/advertise/Paypal links on practically every blog page out there?
            • I tell you what, I'll start a blog tommorrow you start a syndicated talk radio program that has a similar number of listeners as my blog. At the end of the year, lets compare expenses..
        • So is Rush Limbaugh "open source journalism"?

          Open something, that's for sure. But not open source journalism. He gets paid.

    • Maybe you could RTFA before posting. Just a helpful hint.
    • Re:Open source?? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by _KiTA_ ( 241027 )
      It's important beacuse a bunch of Bloggers, who are mostly people working in their spare time, were able to do the investigative journalism and discover that not only was this guy a Whitehouse plant, he's a flaming hypocrite who has ties to the swift boat vetrans for slander people.

      Journalism that NONE of the major news outfits were willing to do.
  • by Hawthorne01 ( 575586 ) on Friday February 11, 2005 @07:00PM (#11647613)
    is the dismantling of CBS's attempt to flaunt the(obiviously) fake National Guard memos as evidence of Bush's slacking off in the Texas Air National Guard. Whether you agree if Dubya did such or not, the way the various conservative blogs built off each other in chasing down that fraud and exposing the sloppy journalism of CBS is a model for future "open-source journalism" efforts.

    I, myself, watch the watchmen.

    • In the page to which this writeup is linked you can see they do indeed liken this incident to the situation of bloggers exposing CBS.

      But that's a valid point anyway.

    • is the dismantling of CBS's attempt to flaunt the(obiviously) fake National Guard memos

      No, although it's related. The Rathergate story exposed a weakness of journalists--they're mostly generalists. Whereas in any large group (Freepers, Rightwing Bloggers, etc.) you're going to have all kinds of experts in diverse fields (eg., TexANG memo format and terminology, MS Word.)

      The Gannon story was fed by people (Kossacks, mostly) who were so interested in the story (originally, the Plame story, which Gannon

    • By that logic we could dismantle foxnews overnight for the huge amount of misquoted, made up news etc that they deliberately post as news.

      I give CBS credit - Dan at least thought those documents were real.

      Its obvious there's far more going on here than "open source journalism"
    • You expose your stupidity and Bushevikian bias with the "(obviously) fake" praise of that brilliant scam--which probably goes all the way back to Karl Rove, though it will probably never be proven exactly by whom and how. The timing and channelling of it was just about perfect from a propaganda perspective, and the plausibility of the memos was so high that I think there are only two cases, and both of them surely point back to someone with the political cunning and scrupulousness of Rove.

      Case 1 is that B

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 11, 2005 @07:01PM (#11647621)
    Open source is a method of collaboration. People come together and use the methods and tools of open source development to allow their disparate skills and goals to reach a common productive endpoint.

    Blogging is a zillion people who disagree with each other on everything all yelling at the same time and hoping that they'll attract a big enough crowd to sustain themselves, and other people come in and selectively listen to just the yelling people that make them feel good about themselves.

    Open Source and Blogging both approach the same point, the same goal: diversity, whether diversity of software usage or diversity of viewpoints. But they approach it from the opposite direction.

    I also question whether Blogging is perhaps being a little presumptuous in comparing itself to the open source movement. The open source movement has left behind a series of useful and generally usable software programs which are continually improving, but which would still have some real utility if all new development ceased tomorrow. Blogging's legacy is pretty much just a series of articles on the subject of how important blogging is.
  • Correction: (Score:3, Informative)

    by NoseBag ( 243097 ) on Friday February 11, 2005 @07:06PM (#11647663)

    Actually, according to the WH:

    "White House press secretary Scott McClellan said (James D.) Guckert (his real name)did not have a regular White House press pass but was cleared on a day-by-day basis to attend briefings and used his real name."
    (parenthetic comments mine)
    • So every day they had a chance to keep this clown out, but ushered him in, instead? Though McClellan has admitted he knew Gannon wasn't even his real name, so therefore no real background check had been performed? That sounds a lot like McClellan knew Gannon/Guckert was "OK" anyway - unless he was playing fast and loose with personal security of the president and the rest of the White House, including access to restricted CIA info. And his own personal security. This guy was a plant - let's see how long it
    • Some White House correspondent said he saw "Gannon" wearing a regular White House press pass. Of course, that's not proof, but the White House has lied before.
  • "Questions" (Score:5, Informative)

    by ortcutt ( 711694 ) on Friday February 11, 2005 @07:06PM (#11647668)
    It might be charitable to even call Gannon/Guckert's comments "questions". Here are some highlights--or should I say lowlights--from his distinguished career.
    May 10, 2004: "Q In your denunciations of the Abu Ghraib photos, you've used words like 'sickening,' 'disgusting' and 'reprehensible.' Will you have any adjectives left to adequately describe the pictures from Saddam's rape rooms and torture chambers? And will Americans ever see those images?"

    MR. McCLELLAN: "I'm glad you brought that up, Jeff, because the President talks about that often."

    July 15, 2004: "Q Last Friday, the Senate Intelligence Committee released a report that shows that Ambassador Joe Wilson lied when he said his wife didn't put him up for the mission to Niger. The British inquiry into their own prewar intelligence yesterday concluded that the President's 16 words were 'well-founded.' Doesn't Joe Wilson owe the President and America an apology for his deception and his own intelligence failure?"
    April 1, 2004: "Q I'd like to comment on the angry mob that surrounded Karl Rove's house on Sunday. They chanted and pounded on the windows until the D.C. police and Secret Service were called in. The protest was organized by the National People's Action Coalition, whose members receive taxpayer funds, as well as financial support from groups including Theresa Heinz Kerry's Tides Foundation.

    MR. McCLELLAN: "I would just say that, one, we appreciate and understand concerns that people may have. I would certainly hope that people would respect the families of White House staff."

    Feb. 10, 2004: "Q Since there have been so many questions about what the President was doing over 30 years ago, what is it that he did after his honorable discharge from the National Guard? Did he make speeches alongside Jane Fonda, denouncing America's racist war in Vietnam? Did he testify before Congress that American troops committed war crimes in Vietnam? And did he throw somebody else's medals at the White House to protest a war America was still fighting?"
  • by null etc. ( 524767 ) on Friday February 11, 2005 @07:07PM (#11647683)
    Open source politics, open source activism, open source journalism -- the aggregation of thousands on behalf of a common cause.

    There's a few thousand people aggregated on behalf of a common cause at Microsoft's campus - I'd hesitate to call that Open Source.

    Open Source isn't a particularly good word to describe journalism.

    • Open Journalism (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Doc Ruby ( 173196 )
      Because it's closed. Just like developing stories in traditional broadcast media. Bloggers share developing info, blur the lines between drafts and releases for early access, share across competing organizations. That's a lot like open source, where the source is the text of the stories, and the repository is the blogs themselves. It's certainly the "bazaar" to the traditional media's "cathedral".
  • we need some kind of underground network, where everyone is unknown, untraceable and unaccountable.
    I wonder if it exists. []
  • Worth noting... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ars-Fartsica ( 166957 ) on Friday February 11, 2005 @07:08PM (#11647689)
    ...that last year's "big story" (Dan Rather falsification of Bush military records controversy), was broken by bloggers.

    Big Media (NYTimes, etc) long term are in no better shape than record or film companies. They claim to be the arbiters of intellectual property but in reality we see that once you eliminate manufacturing and distribution costs, they are no better or no different than a guy in his basement. These firms were not in fact media firms but manufacturers and distributors.

    • Worth noting (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mcc ( 14761 )
      ...that CBS's failure of journalistic integrity in the "Bush Memos" case wasn't a "big story" anywhere except in the blogosphere.

      Also worth noting that this "big story" had no functional outcome whatsoever. CBS was in no way held accountable for what they did, they in no way had to answer to the public, they never even admitted fault. Even in the blogosphere, the story really didn't serve any purpose except as a tool for right-wing blogs to distract people from the real evidence concerning Bush's possible
      • Re:Worth noting (Score:3, Interesting)

        Also, the right-wing bloggers in the Rather case never dug past the surface. OK, the document was a forgery. Great. So who forged them? Well meaning friends of the person who supposedly wrote it? Karl Rove? Who? That's the story begging to be written.

        The reason why the right-wing bloggers stopped is instructive: their goal was to discredit Rather so that the "Bush was AWOL" story could be pushed off the front page. They never intended to get to the truth.

        In the case of Gannon, the goal wasn't to

  • by mrighi ( 855168 ) on Friday February 11, 2005 @07:09PM (#11647701) Homepage
    It's interesting how the definition of "open source" has changed over the last few years. It used to be that I only ever heard "open source" associated with software. After all, software is built from source code.

    It seems like the phrase "open source" is being confused with the similar, but different, "free to use", "free speech" or "freedom of expression." We hear about open source journalism, open source biology, open source research and even open source beer. []

    I'm not saying that this is a bad thing... I'm just making an observation. It makes me wonder if in twenty years from now, when new countries are writing their constitutions, will they guarantee their citizens "open source rights?"
    • I had the same questions when I saw the headline. Then I read about the fact that the "story" itself was cobbled together by a spontaneously labor-dividing group of volunteers. So, now I think it does make sense to call it "open source," by analogy, even if there is no source code.
  • by jericho4.0 ( 565125 ) on Friday February 11, 2005 @07:10PM (#11647712)
    WTF? Opensource is a licenceing method, not a way for people to work together. It encourages people and companies to contribute to work others started because they know it will not be used for the benefit of one, but the benefit of all.

    I fail to see the similarity to bloggers, who seem (at least the majority)to be more concerned about getting people to pay attention to them.

    • I sympathize with you, and I"ve commented on DailyKos that Open Source Journalism should at least be licensed under the Creative Commons Atribute/NoDeriv license (or something similar). So far it seems to have fallen on deaf ears.
  • by BossMC ( 696762 )
    I would like to welcome Open Source Journalism. I can't stand it when I open a newspaper and the damn thing is in some proprietary format!
  • Call it co-operative journalism, open jouralism, whatever, but open source isn't just another word for mass co-operation between loosely associated people. No one is licensing "source code" in a open source like license in a blog. Maybe this sounds like nitpicking, but I find tying the two concepts together via the term "open source" to be confusing to both concepts.

    There is no source code to journalism (beyond raw data), and I don't see people licensing their words on blogs under an open source license.
    • The "source code" in this case consists of information, facts, leads, investigations, opinions, arguments, etc. etc. All of these things are out in the open for anyone to read and critique, just as open source code is free for anyone to read and critique.

      With open source software, the product is a program. With open source journalism, the product is a story. In both cases, the input to the development process is there for all to see. You don't have to rely on a source that won't let you see how their
  • While the open source angle is interesting, this is really a case of "many hands make light work". Just as open source projects can bring a lot of people together to work on a project, from all over the world, blog media is now doing the same for investigative reporting.

    The reason why we've rarely seen this effect in media before is that it used to be very difficult to get all of the interested parties in the same news room at one time. Usually only one or two journalists at a paper would be working on

  • I think it's good to have open source journalism in a sense above blogging -- wikis are the closest thing to offer it, but there are still problems in the accuracy department.

    On top of this, there are elements of print news that blogging and wikis have not yet touched. I lay out news pages for a living, and the biggest problem that I've seen with blogging is the lack of consistent graphic designs that help make sense of the story. It's something that's difficult for one person to do on top of writing.


  • ...that there's no accountability (and "other bloggers" don't count).

    Bloggers - many with vicious partisan political and personal agendas - post "news" stories, and want all the visibility and rights of journalists, with none of the responsibility, and definitely no representation of the "other side of the story", as it were. Stories that are nothing more than glorified op-ed get passed around as gospel, and get read by many who are less discriminating about the sources for their information, and take it a
  • by Anonymous Coward
    It was discovered that he was using an alias to get past White House security.

    Uh, no. He was using an alias, but White House security requires you to give your name, address and social security # to get press credentials and access to CIA documents []. They do a background check.

    No, this guy did not "get past" White House security. He was a ringer [], a shill, for the White House. A go-to guy when questions get tough [].

    How long had Talon news existed when "Gannon" got his press credentials? I just heard (h
  • I'm a liberal, but kos is such a shrill bitch it's ridiculous. This is a guy who's so blinded by partisanship that he thought Gray Davis would beat the recall election in california. His reporting of the Iraq war is so stilted it makes him seem like he's rejoicing in our every failure, because it hurts bush political as much as it hurts the Iraqis physically.

    Kos will print any gay rumor about any republican wether or not that particular republican has an anti-gay agenda or not and claim it's an example o
    • Ken Mehlman is gay and the he's the chairman of the RNC, a group which supports an administration that wants to pass a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. Explain to me what isn't hypocritical about that.
  • I love the old guard media. Bloggers are irrelevant! They have no fact checkers! They aren't trained!

    Wah? They find out some obscure conservative journalist got past White House security?

    Bloggers are relevant! They are fact checkers! They don't need training!

    Whatever. Daily Kos is as worthless as most of the media is.

  • by Derling Whirvish ( 636322 ) on Friday February 11, 2005 @08:19PM (#11648353) Journal
    A better example is the resignation of CNN's Eason Jordan. He said that U.S. soldiers were deliberately targeting journalists in Iraq -- a flat out falsehood. No one would have heard of the story except for the pressure from bloggers. After the story broke most of the mainstream meadia (Howard Kurtz) circles the wagons and defended him. Now that pressure from blogdom has lead to his resignation.
  • If traditional big news media is the "Cathedral" then blog/community sites are the "Bazaar". Does that fit better than the phrase "Open Source Journalism"?

    It's not like source code. There is not so much of the behavior of "submitting a patch" to some news story. Everyone just posts up some content or comment (or both in one).

    Anyway, the "correct" term will doubtlessly fall to the "hip" term if they don't happen to be the same.
  • by Kenrod ( 188428 ) on Friday February 11, 2005 @08:41PM (#11648504)
    At almost the exact moment this Kos suck-up story was posted, Eason Jordan, CNN News Chief, was resigning! []

    His resignation follows weeks of right-wing blogosphere activism over his comments that the US military was deliberately targeting journalists.

    So what's a bigger story - left-wing bloggers busting an unknown right-wing "journalist" working the system to lob a couple of softballs at President Bush, or right-wing bloggers busting the freaking head of CNN news?

    • That story has nothing to do with technology.

      This story is about "Open Source". Y'see...

      (And this is a story about MEDIA... not POLITICS)

      'Coz it's Kew...
  • by Visceral Monkey ( 583103 ) on Friday February 11, 2005 @08:57PM (#11648627)
    Markos is a piss poor example of anything other than an over inflated sense of self-worth and ego. A better example of what he's talking about would be the National Guard story that CBS shat out on the world. That's not to say the example cited isn't news worthy, but holding it up as an example without even discussing the other more worthy ones is a joke. Liken it to holding up the Mexican-American war as an example of how countries fight wars as opposed to WWII. Stupid, stupid, stupid.
  • by Kenrod ( 188428 ) on Friday February 11, 2005 @09:05PM (#11648682)
    So, if this guy Gannon was regularly attending press briefings on day passes, why didn't any of the Big Media Reporters there bust him? They knew:

    1) he had been denied a permanent pass and
    2) he was working for a right-wing organization and
    3) he was lobbing softballs day after day

    My opinion: they didn't think he was doing anything wrong.
  • I'm a big fans of blogs and blogging. But Slashdot pioneered open source journalism - in all senses of the term - long before the blogs gained momentum. Tech journalists have been getting story leads from Slashdot for years. Now political reporters are getting story leads from blogs, and suddenly it's a revolution! The model for open source journalism exists, right here. The blogs are simply broadening the installed base of participants.

There's no such thing as a free lunch. -- Milton Friendman