This week, the non-profit investigative journalism group ProPublica decided to take its quest to uncover the untold stories in a different direction on the Internet: Reddit. And here’s the twist, they’re not seeking sources — they’re seeking stories. They’ve opened up a channel, InvestigateThisNews, asking users to tell them what they should be covering.
We’re crowdsourcing investigative stories on Reddit. Join in: propub.ca/10trVsF
— ProPublica (@ProPublica) March 26, 2013
Now Reddit, which has been around for years, seems to be having a heyday these days. I mean, even the President did an AMA (Ask Me Anything) during the campaign! But for ProPublica, it’s part of their Get Involved strategy, according to senior engagement editor Amanda Zamora. She discussed it in a Q&A over at Niemen Journalism Lab, in which she talks extensively about user engagement and where the Reddit channel fits in. I think she nailed it with this point on why places like Reddit, Twitter, Facebook, etc. matter not only as a reporting source but as a story source:
…[W]e still pay attention and use social media to build a general audience for our work. We are using it to get the word out about what we report. But we’re just as concerned at using these tools to help attract people who want to participate in our work. We’re doing a lot of community building.
In other words, if you want to know what the story is, or if there’s a story people in your readership and your community think is uncovered and important, why don’t you ask them. Engage them in the reporting process before there’s a reporting process.