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citizen journalism

Should Gawker Take Down Crack-Smoking Mayor With Public Money?

In Toronto, citizens are wrestling with a difficult scenario: wily, unstable mayor Rob Ford is now implicated in a video that allegedly shows him smoking crack cocaine. But, the video is in possession of a group of Somali men who are involved in the very trade that supplied the crack to Ford, and they’re looking to sell it for six figures.

Determined to gain possession of the tape, Gawker editor John Cook (who flew to Toronto and saw the tape personally) has appealed to the wider audience of the website and asked that those interested in breaking the story with Gawker donate towards a $200,000 fundraising goal to purchase the tape and post it online for everyone. The Indiegogo fundraiser, the pun-laden “Rob Ford Crackstarter,” already has more than $86,000 a week before the goal deadline and includes a $10,000 tier that offers the phone that recorded the video in the first place.

Read more

The Problem With Citizen Journalism

Citizen journalism is a lofty little term thrown around by interweb idealists.* This week, Trevor Knoblich wrote a column on PBS’ MediaShift blog asking “Can Citizen Journalism Move Past Crisis Reporting?”

No, no, it can’t. 

The first lonely comment under the article was from an editor of CNN’s iReport, championing the organization’s efforts to help citizens gather and report stories that are meaningful to them and their community. The idea is a noble one, and it’s executed pretty well. They give tips on good storytelling and provide free music clips you can use with your video. There’s even an Assignment Desk where editors ask for submissions on a given topic (this weekend it’s ‘Show Off Your Mom Tattoos’). 

It’s not that I am against any of the actually very good work iReport can curate. It’s that most of the contributions have the “not vetted” by CNN label which means they’re the equivalent of a YouTube video about your student debt, the plight of tipped workers, or, your mom tattoo.

Remember the editorial pages of your local newspaper? Read more

Boston Marathon Tragedy Exposes Twitter’s Reporting Flaws

Around 2:50pm EST, as runners were crossing the finish line at the end of the Boston Marathon, a bomb apparently placed in a garbage can exploded. Roughly ten seconds later, a separate bomb hundreds of feet away also went off — both amid spectators. After that moment though, things begin to get hazy.

As Boston Police and media outlets work to piece together the tragic events that happened yesterday, a look back at Twitter uncovers a massive amount of disinformation propagated by both verified and unverified accounts from all over the world.

12 people were killed. The Boston Police Department has a Saudi national as a suspect. Cellphone service had been cut off. There were seven undetonated bombs found in neighboring buildings.

All of these above reports, which occurred within hours of the explosion, have all been proved unverified at best and false at worst. Read more

Guardian Launches User-Generated Content Platform, GuardianWatch

The Guardian has a new way for the community and newsroom to connect to tell stories via the web, an iPhone app and Android app. GuardianWitness is the organization’s new “open journailsm” platform that lets readers submit pictures, videos and text to journalists directly from an assignment.

Selected contributions will go anywhere on The Guardian’s publishing platforms. From the announcement:

If your submission is picked up by a journalist it could go on to be featured across the Guardian – in print and online – which means you can help set the news agenda and become part of the Guardian’s award-winning journalism.

The platform is a partnership with EE, the UK’s first and only superfast 4G mobile network .

Vourno: A Crowd-Funding Platform for the News

If Joe Verdirame has his way, we’re all going to be ‘vournos’ pretty soon. You heard me: vourno, or a video journalist. Along with his brother and some friends from college, none of whom are practicing journalists, Verdirame has created the first crowdfunding platform focused solely on the news.

Set to launch this May with a handful of ready videojournalists, Vourno works much like other crowdfunding sites such as Kickstarter or Indiegogo, with a viewing platform to boot.

Explains Verdirame:

We love the news, but we saw this hole that needed to be fixed. We’re just for news, and we’re not just a funding platform, we’re providing an independent news network, a platform where users can build a portfolio, and their pieces get rated. With our platform, you get to see the end result and you can keep following your vourno.

Journalists who want to produce their own magazine news show, cover a story they feel is missing from the mainstream, or head overseas to break news, create a Project, in Vourno parlance. Each project has thirty days to reach its funding goal. Once it gets funded, the journalist goes out to produce the segment and then posts in on the Vourno site.

If you’re not a journalist, you can head to Vourno to donate and fund a project, submit an idea, or just watch the news.

Some exciting features: Read more

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