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citizen journalism

‘Bellingcat’ Kickstarter Campaign Seeks to Unite Investigative Citizen Journalists

BellingcatCitizen journalism is more prevalent than ever with the upsurge in social media platforms. Now that so much information is available at our fingertips, it seems that reporters — both formally trained and novice — are even hungrier for accurate news.

A crowdfunding campaign by a man named Eliot Higgins has the goal of bringing together citizen journalists who are curious about hard news issues through an open-source website. His vision is for contributors all over the world to continue coverage of “Syria, Iraq, Turkey, Kurdistan, Nigeria, Jihadists, Shia armed groups, the UK phone hacking scandal, police corruption, and more,” he wrote on Kickstarter.

Bellingcat, as he calls it, is based on the idea that citizen journalists have the power to do much of the investigation that traditional media outlets do. YouTube and Reddit are just two hugely important tools that anyone who values verification and getting to the bottom of a news story can use, and it’s totally open-sourced. Social media does the same thing, Higgins wrote on his Kickstarter page.

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Reddit Launches Live Blogging Platform

reddilive.jpgReddit has officially launched RedditLive, a new feature where anyone on the platform can create their own live blog via a subreddit. The feature has been in beta for a few months but now anyone can get at it and live blog at will.

Are we still in a place where this means journos will whine about professionalism, ethics, and recall the mob mentality surrounding some reddit threads and news events? Probably. If so, it’s probably time to shed the pretense. Reporting needs to be mobile, live, and transparent. RedditLive doesn’t have to be a publisher, though that’s technically what it is, but could be a really good source for you in the newsroom. Although, someone is live-blogging their midnight snack.

I think that reddit is sort of a self-cleaning machine. There’s a lot of noise over there, and that’s a good thing. When something is wrong or missing, people notice. It’s like the “eyes on the street” effect for the web. Read more

Knight Foundation Grants $3.89M to Build Open Source Platform for Engaging with Readers

knight2-262x193Yesterday, the Knight-Mozilla Open News initiative announced that it will lead a collaboration among Mozilla, the New York Times, and the Washington Post to create a new platform. With $3.89 million in funding, they’ll work together on a platform that will allow readers and users to upload pictures, videos, and other media for news outlets to use. From the release:

This open-source community platform will allow news organizations to connect with audiences beyond the comments section, deepening opportunities for engagement. Through the platform, readers will be able to submit pictures, links and other media; track discussions; and manage their contributions and online identities. Publishers will then be able to collect and use this content for other forms of storytelling and to spark ongoing discussions by providing readers with targeted content and notifications.

It’s sort of an unusual partnership, but it could turn out to be very fruitful. Instead of shying away from the internet, the projects seems to capture the essence of all things digital and all things journo: it’s open sourced so other outlets can use it, allows for management of data and verification, and treats readers as equal partners in news gathering. If that’s not what the digital publishing industry needs right now, I don’t know what is. The platform will also have a new sort of commenting system where users can highlighting system for journalists to better interact with readers. Instead of banning comments, they plan to make them more useful. Dan Sinker, the head of the Knight-Mozilla Open News Initiative writes on his blog:

Finally, this is a project that has the opportunity not only to improve community engagement in journalism, but to strengthen the web itself. Technologies likeBackbone.jsD3, and Django have all been forged and tested in the demanding environment of the newsroom, and then gone on to transform the way people build on the web. We don’t know that there’s a Backbone lurking inside this project, but we’re sure as hell going to find out.

Here’s to seeing what happens.

Arizona State Journalism Students Collaborate With Citizen Journalists

8.24-CronkiteThanks to a $250,000 grant from the Knight Foundation, students at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism now help comprise a new American Public Media Public Insight Network (PIN) hub.

What does that mean, you ask? Basically, ASU J-schoolers now have the opportunity to work alongside faculty members and media professionals as they correspond with PIN sources. The newest home of PIN, a thriving digital platform where more than 215,000 citizen experts have volunteered their expertise and angles to reporters across the country, will live in the Cronkite School’s downtown Phoenix campus building.

Organizations like the Seattle Times, NPR, the Washington Post, Columbia J-School and dozens of others utilize the PIN platform to find trustworthy information for news coverage quickly and to incorporate diverse views into their reporting. Surely, ASU’s implementation of PIN fosters a “teaching hospital” environment. Plus, usage of the PIN platform in Arizona benefits American Public Media, as it works to sustain the initiative in the future.

Said David Kansas, American Public Media’s senior vice president and chief operating officer, in a press release: “It will provide an important service to the industry and a rich educational experience and career pipeline for students while helping to position PIN and the networked journalism it fosters for long-term sustainability.”

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This Is Why You Don’t Show Twitter Streams Live On TV

It could happen to anyone: You’re following a hashtag or a trending news topic on Twitter, and bam, you’re assaulted with hashtag spam or, worse, some sexually explicit item you don’t want to see.

Most of us quickly scroll away or close the browser, offended and put off for seconds. But what if you can’t pan away quick enough to avert not only your eyes but your viewers eyes from seeing … well everything?

Denver TV Station Fox 31 found out the hard way yesterday that you really need to curate that user-generated content before you put it up on screen. In the course of scrolling through Twitter images of the deadly helicopter crash in Seattle, the show went to the Twitter feed of photos from the crash scene.

Unfortunately, this was a crash course in the crassness of the Internet. The images weren’t selected ahead of time and so ended up being a hodge podge of pictures, including some off-topic and inappropriate things users had tagged to ride the coattails of the news cycle. That’s how the Denver morning show team ended up showing some non-relevant images that included food, Edward Scissors Hands and a penis. Yeah, that. On live TV. The reaction of shock on the anchors’ faces says it all:

surprisetweet

Many of the videos of this have been pulled down, but if you for some reason want to see the actual broadcast, Deadspin still has it posted in full. (Obviously, NSFW.)

The station did issue an apology, but it’s the type of thing you can’t unsee — and a lesson we hope nobody else needs to re-learn.

While reporting breaking news about the crash of the KOMO-TV helicopter in Seattle, FOX31 Denver accidentally broadcast an offensive photo while scrolling live through a Twitter feed of pictures from the crash scene.

The photo was mistakenly broadcast by our control room. It did not come from the tablet many viewers saw being used by one of our anchors.

We apologize for the inadvertent broadcast of the image and we are taking immediate steps to prevent such an accident from happening again.

This is why you don’t show uncurated feeds on live TV. And while we’re on it, really, you should be verifying any of those images you share before airing them anyway. This wouldn’t have happened if that step had taken place.

(h/t Deadspin)

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