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citizen journalism

HuffPo Will Never Hire You

fergusonfellowshipI would begin by ranting about new lows in paying journalists, but the events in Ferguson are already so gut wrenching on their own that it would be a bit dramatic.

That doesn’t mean that crowdfunding a journo is ok. Today, The Huffington Post announced that it is going to allow local resident Mariah Stewart to train with their staffer Ryan Reilly to:

…cover the ongoing story of Ferguson, tracking the federal investigation into the killing of Michael Brown and reporting on the empaneled grand jury. She’ll monitor the activity of the local and county police forces once the national spotlight dims, and will learn the intricacies of public records requests in an effort to divine the funding sources and uses of military gear in the county.

They’re calling it the Ferguson Fellowship and it will all be done through Beacon. Is this a good idea? It’s certainly true that the best images and live reporting from what I’ve come to think of as the seventh level of hell, has come from residents on the ground.

fergusonfellowship2

But, but. Why can’t they just hire another reporter? Because while I’m all about empowering and training and teaching young journalists (and it’s nice that she’s a woman), I also know a lot of people who paid large universities (like Ms. Stewart) to learn the craft and could sure as heck use a job this fall. Mariah could probably use a salary with benefits and some paid sick and vacation days, too. The Beacon campaign only goes through if it reaches $40,000. I am curious about how that is paid out to her? Or just to HuffPo? Do they throw Reilly a little tip for his troubles?

For some reason, if it were the local Ferguson paper saying “hey, we’re broke and need to hire someone to help continue good coverage” I would be more interested. That The Huffington Post can’t spare $40,000 a year for a reporter makes this freelancer want to curl up into a ball and listen to the new Taylor Swift album, a sure a sign as any that the world is coming to an end.

And then, some rewards for donating. For $2,000 you can get a shout out from the HuffPo Twitter account. Seriously.

What do you think about the Fellowship? Let us know @10,000Words.

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Is Grasswire, a “Real-Time Newsroom,” a Better Version of Reddit?

GrasswireIt’s no secret that the Internet is often a hotbed of misinformation in the wake of a breaking news event, particularly during horrible disasters involving multiple deaths, such as the Sandy Hook shootings. And social media is often a conduit for the rapid spread of fake facts and those terribly convincing photos that circulate around seemingly without end.

But a new service called Grasswire plans to be a “real-time newsroom curated and fact checked by everyone.” Covered by PandoDaily’s David Holmes recently, the Android app and website seeks to rectify all the wrongs people (including journalists) have Twitter have committed in spreading non fact-checked information on social media by ensuring it doesn’t keep happening. The platform is reminiscent of Reddit, Holmes notes — only Grasswire’s verification process is a bit more in-depth.

“…Instead of simply upvoting or downvoting, users can click “confirm” or “refute.” The confirmations and refutations stick with each post so that when the link is shared to social media, whatever factchecking is in place goes along with it. That way, even if a Grasswire link to a false claim is tweeted out or posted to Facebook, once its been refuted all subsequent retweets and posts will surface that factcheck,” Holmes explained.

Honestly, I think Grasswire’s idea is a huge step in the right direction. As more social media outlets surface, and user bases rise, citizen journalism is becoming more mainstream. On the one hand, it’s great. An engaged citizenry that reads and shares the news and seeks to inform their followers of what’s going on in their towns, states, country, the world?

Read more

‘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.

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