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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 Wired.com, 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?' Wired.com: '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 while ago a coup happened in Fiji, the wikipedia entry pretty much reflected events on the ground as they progressed, I thought it was pretty amazing that it took the 'real' news services sometimes more than a few days to catch up with the situation.

  • Truth (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mwvdlee ( 775178 ) on Thursday March 15, 2007 @08:21AM (#18360319) Homepage
    They're partly doing this experiment to find out whether such news reporting would be close to the truth. However, what stakes do those who benefit from false reporting have, in involving themselves in this experiment?
  • by ScentCone ( 795499 ) on Thursday March 15, 2007 @08:49AM (#18360525)
    Why is this happening?

    Because most people, honestly, do not know that they're not very good at most everything. People don't have the critical thinking skills to separate quality work (say, reporting/editorial work) from amateurishness, and so they fancy themselves just as able to do anything that an experienced professional can do, if the subject matter is interesting to them. This is bolstered, these days, by 'reality' TV shows that make celebrities out of addled-brained twits, and by grade school warm-and-fuzziness that goes to great lengths to proclaim everyone a star at everything, regardless of actual merit, capacity, charm, motivation, DNA, or hard work.

    Collaborative "reporting" attracts only those people that have some vested interest or an axe to grind. That vested interest distorts most people's sense of whether their own opinion is valid or objective, and makes their contributions highly suspect (in terms of actual journalism). Someone truly objective is practicing a true skill/profession, and if they're any good at it, they're usually going to be looking for an actual job at it. And what makes someone who IS a professional journalist skip on over to a collaborative arena, for no pay, to work on some other material? Personal vested interest in that topic area, and the resulting lack of objectivity on that particular topic.

    So, you've got either serious, capable people who are good journalists, and capable communicators/researchers who are off on a project that isn't part of their career, per se... or, you've got what amounts to activists and fan boys who are solely motivated by the outcome of the reporting, usually as characterized by a glorious dollup of spin... or, you've got people who think they've got more to offer on this front than they really do, and get social validation from having their hands in it - and everyone's too politically correct to tell them that they're really not very good at it, actually. And since operations like Wired are really just looking to build more brand loyalty and eyeballs on their site, of course they're going to position this get-other-people-to-do-the-work effort as being a vital, fresh, hip, we're-really-all-journalists shrine to Web 2.0. Balls, I say.
  • Reputation (Score:4, Interesting)

    by nephridium ( 928664 ) on Thursday March 15, 2007 @08:57AM (#18360589)
    Such a project would share many of the adventages and problems with sites like Wikipedia. Who will guarantee accuracy? What can be done against vandalism? A hierarchical structure (based on credibility) is required, but how to avoid cronyism and abuse?

    Though the anonymity of the net blows up the problem of whether a source can be deemed credible or not it is not unique to the net. If a 'meatspace' reporter screwes up his face will be associated with that screw-up. (Likewise a screen name will become stigmatized.) A good reporter, though, will consistently supply good stories, so his reputation rises and he becomes more popular.

    The same should hold true in cyberspace. A color code could be used to indicate the credibility of the author of that particular entry and s/he will get bumped up on the credibility scale as soon as his information can be verified as authentic. This way freelance jounalists could even remain anonymous and use unverifiable/secret sources - as long as they consistently provide truthful stories they get bumped up; in time more people will read them (and check) and in turn everybody will be better informed.

    I really hope this sort of alternative independent media becomes mainstream one day, but I fear that many governments will make them illegal to use because of "national security"(tm) reasons.

"Never face facts; if you do, you'll never get up in the morning." -- Marlo Thomas