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Assignment Zero Tests Pro-Am Journalism 52

Jay Rosen writes "Assignment Zero is a pro-am, open-platform reporting project. The investigation: crowd sourcing and peer production are a social trend growing well beyond tech. Why is this happening? Partners: NewAssignment.Net and, with Newsvine. From the Wired essay: 'We're trying to figure something out here. Can large groups of widely scattered people, working together voluntarily on the net, report on something happening in their world right now, and by dividing the work wisely tell the story more completely, while hitting high standards in truth, accuracy and free expression?' 'We want out readers and our sources to be one and the same. We think it will make for better journalism.'"
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Assignment Zero Tests Pro-Am Journalism

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  • A higher calling. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 15, 2007 @08:14AM (#18360269)
    " 'We want out readers and our sources to be one and the same. We think it will make for better journalism.'""

    Yes it does []
  • by qwijibo ( 101731 ) on Thursday March 15, 2007 @08:24AM (#18360343)
    So basically they want to get people to work for free? This sounds like a new management trend in the making. What better way to improve profits than to drive resource costs to zero? It's even better than slave labor - it's sucker labor! =)
  • Re:Truth (Score:3, Insightful)

    by shec0002 ( 141627 ) on Thursday March 15, 2007 @08:33AM (#18360401) Homepage
    "Why is this happening?" I think people don't like the slant that the major news outlets put on stories in any direction, while other people don't think there is enough slant. Major news outlets gave up on journalism long ago. I think an open source view to journalism could really bring more solid facts and less political rhetoric. I agree this is an experiment, but I think they will be closer to the truth, as long as both sides are interested in adding to the information. The current news model says the information is "interactive", but it isn't. Topics that used to be reserved for OpEd, are now put on the front page, if it aligns with the ambitions of someone at the news outlet's agenda.
  • by MadCow-ard ( 330423 ) on Thursday March 15, 2007 @09:00AM (#18360633)
    Wikipedia is excellent at reporting events well, and historical events even better. Once the information is in the wild, it takes time to consolidate into a Wiki primarily because the contributors are not committed 100%, i.e. professionals, to their Wiki entry. Sure you might get a few that have little more to do then chat online entering up to date Wiki info, but is this who you want reporting breaking stories?

    The issue here is timing. If you want events as they are unfolding to be reported accurately you can do it in an open source format, but if you want them to be in "CNN" realtime, you can't rely on a non-paid community to take the time whenever it is required. They will do it, but that evening, or the next day when they are online. Even with "always on" internet connections, your coverage of events will still have a time lag in most instances.

    We need to pay people who will be both neutral, and available at a moment's notice, if we want a reliable news source. If we had a major news outlet, such as CNN or NYT online (or a new one), paying for up to date information with attached mobile phone photos, then we might be getting closer to a freelance/opportunistic approach to a paid open-source news outlet. But we would still have a problem with reliability and neutrality. That would be hard to solve without a large number of entries which you could "average" into a story.
  • by westlake ( 615356 ) on Thursday March 15, 2007 @09:12AM (#18360747)
    So basically they want to get people to work for free?

    The more important question to ask is whether these reporters will have the same rights and expectations as the pros? If one of these volunteers is sued or arrested will "Wired" stand by them, organize - and pay for - an effective defense?

  • by bbernard ( 930130 ) on Thursday March 15, 2007 @09:26AM (#18360893)
    Isn't that quote from Wired actually saying: "We'd like our readers to be our sources too, because then we don't have to pay writers, but we can still charge the readers, effectively charging them for submitting stories..." Or did I just wake up all cynical today?
  • by Oxygen99 ( 634999 ) on Thursday March 15, 2007 @10:06AM (#18361311)
    I think you're wrong. Not only that, but I also think your comments are dismissive and patronising. Most people are capable of performing complex tasks pretty competently, especially if they're motivated enough to get involved in a collaborative journalistic venture. As noted above, the Fiji coup attempt on Wikipedia was covered about as quickly and accurately as on regular news outlets. And since when was professionalism journalism held up to be some shining beacon of honesty and trust anyway? I'd guess that there are more news outlets whose professional journalistic integrity can be questioned than not.
    I'm not saying that collaborative journalism is bound to succeed, or even likely to succeed, but dismissing it as you do seems pretty blinkered.

The optimum committee has no members. -- Norman Augustine