What has been called a ‘media plantation‘, Huffington Post has asked their readers (who are already reading for free anyway) to pore over the 736-page stimulus bill to ‘see if there’s anything interesting in there’.
It makes perfect sense to have readers help out-with the stimulus package, in particular, whose content is as significant as it is dense. “People want to see these things come to light,” says Matt Palevsky, who coordinates distributed reporting for the HuffPost, and worked on the stimulus project. “It’s a feeling of interest,” he says-the content of the package will affect all of us both profoundly and directly- “and also one of responsibility.” There’s also that fact that “playing the investigator is fun for a lot of people-it certainly is for me.”
Soliciting and taking advantage of that help is nothing new, either-and not just for the HuffPost (the stimulus project is a direct outgrowth of OffTheBus, the outlet’s popular-and, by most accounts, highly successful-citizen journalism project), but also for journalism in general. Crowdsourcing in this respect “is just an extension of what’s always been done in the media world,” Grim says. “People have always called into newspapers or network news shows with tips-and that’s all this is.”
Yeah, but no one ever assigned the public with a beat for tips. Since when does being PAID to write and research somehow make you a drag on the process?