Crowdsourcing journalism is hard work

Wired magazine is running some of the stories that have been produced by Assignment Zero — the first “crowdsourcing” journalism experiment from Jay Rosen’s NewAssignment.net and Wired writer (and mesh panelist) Jeff Howe — and one of the first is a piece by Anna Haynes about just how difficult the entire process has been. As she describes it:

“The results of my efforts were mixed. Some parts were rewarding: I enjoyed digging to uncover lobbyist connections to earmarked appropriations in the Earmarks Project, plus there’s a certain satisfaction in publicly exposing stonewalling, and a different satisfaction in finally getting an answer.

But I contribute to crowdsourced journalism because I want my work to yield a high “social good” return, and by that metric, overall, the experience has been frustrating. With some of these projects I ended up with nothing to show for the time I put in.”

In the end, however, Anna says that she believes it was worth it — and that more of it needs to happen:

I did it, and will continue doing it, for the same reason that you keep going out on dates even though the first six guys didn’t measure up — you know there’s potential to the form, you want that potential to be realized, and you’re pretty sure that, if you keep plugging away and you put the word out, in time that potential will blossom.

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About mathewi

I'm the chief digital writer at the Columbia Journalism Review in New York, and a former writer for Fortune magazine and the Globe and Mail newspaper.

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