Monday, December 08, 2008

Here's a Crowdsourcing F'rinstance: Photography is Better Than Drugs.

Xeni Jardin. How do we love thee. Let us count the many, many ways.
So here's a project: Give (donated) cams to the homeless in order to document their lives, or whatever they see.
Photography is better than drugs, it seems. Also on this post, our old friend (from the NYC/1990s days) Clay Shirky has a spot.
BTW, really enjoying how BBTV is picking up big advertisers, ala Toshiba. SomeONE's willing to back online video. Thanks, Tosh!

Curatorial Journalism

Caught NPR's recent On The Media broadcast while driving back to the Bay Area from a holiday visit to Oregon. A few great points were made regarding the bombings in Mumbai, wherein Twitter played an enormous role in getting on-site news out during Day One of the aftermath.
A series of questions was raised by the interviewer centered around whether folks sending Tweets from Mumbai were:
  1. Unwittingly aiding terrorists
  2. Contributing to the spread of inaccurate reports
  3. Behaving responsibly (particularly with regard to posting images of the dead)
The answers were:
  1. Possibly, but television stations were the worst offenders
  2. Probably, but people quickly figured out who were reliable, and started following those "credible" sources.
  3. Yes.
Then the interview turned to address matters relating to how mainstream media and new media were experiencing some synergy. At this point in the talk, the thought was journalists were acting as curators of what was happening in the social networking space.

Here's why that's interesting. Most US newspapers have truncated their foreign coverage -- witness the recent cutbacks at the LA Times. Television (CNN included) has always treated foreign affairs as optional. I once interned with Richard Roth back in 1994 who produced an international affairs show, with frequent guests from the UN, where he had an office. That show was typically broadcast at around 2 in the morning, and would occasionally get some play when something really violent was happening on CNNi. When it comes to so-called foreign coverage -- ie, anything that happens outside the lower 48 -- BBC, NPR, and overseas papers do it best, NYT's international coverage notwithstanding.

In other words, there's little left for many journalists to do anything BUT curate. Because they're not on-site.

That said, the curatorial role of journalists taking their cues from social media is likely -- I believe -- to be a continuing trend as news becomes increasingly crowd-sourced. News organizations can't (or won't) afford eyes and ears on the ground, but journalists can help separate the wheat (or the tweet) from the chaff, connect ideas, and in many cases better articulate them than your average online writer who doesn't write for a living.

Now is this anything new? Yes and no. Rank and file journalists covering matters of every sort have taken their cues from blogs as they cover their beat since the blogosphere came into existence. Certainly, as a tech reporter, I did. It's also a fast way to get a source, email being at least as efficient, if not more, than a telephone call. The struggle for journalists now is to be able to add more balance, insight, and voices into their coverage in order to continue justifying their existence as a mediator between events and publishing news/features in the various media.

That said, I think we can all do a hell of a lot more than curate.