Rambling thoughts on citizen journalism


C4 news invited its audience to report any factual claims made by politicians during the last general election. These claims were then investigated, and any discrepancies reported. What access does C4 news have that we lack that allows them to do this, but prevents us from doing the same?

Would a CJ hub have the clout to get access? How can privileged access be rested from the hands of the actors when both the source & the journalist have a vested interest in their privileged relationship?

The trend towards transparency should make more info more available – a concerted effort to make difficult to obtain information easily accessible would ease the barriers to entry for Citizen Journalists to do low-level fact-checking & investigation. The bureaucracy of obtaining this information might scale – the frustration/time sink of the red tape could be reduced by an automated/technologically augmented process.

If investigative journalism is the correlation of heretofore hidden data, then by reducing the time/cost/effort of uncovering that data would/could lead to more time/effort being available to spend on identifying correlations.

*The slow death of the small city newspaper.

If sub-1million-inhabitant cities lose their newspapers, can CJ take up the investigative slack in time to prevent increases in corruption/nepotism?

Could there be a Craigslist-type disruptive tool/service for CJ? [Is there already?]

How could the integrity of such a service be maintained… by peer review? Whuffie? Could a mainstream news organisation lend its reputation – The New Orleans Grauniad? Would automated ads reduce/eliminate undue editorial influence?

Individual journalists have funded their reportage via public donations.

Dispersed journalism – 10/100/1000 people can cover more geographical space.

CJ’s can offer their services to someone who has an interest/lead on a story –

Specific skillsets could be listed so that CJ’s can ask for/offer their services more specifically: legal/scientific/cultural expertise could be applied when needed

Ad-hoc groups could form & reform as an investigation continues  – facts could be checked by more than one person, to prevent misunderstanding/malpractice.

Could there be Guilds/Clans of similarly skilled/interested CJ’s?

Where is a story published once it reaches critical mass?

– on the lead journo’s blog?

– on the hub site?

– in a newspaper/magazine that has commissioned or been offered the piece?

Will the idea of “the paper of record”  disappear, evolve, or be transformed into something else?

*The attention of CJ’s could be focussed on struggling/demanding/underfunded neighborhoods – they have as many stories to be told about them, but are mostly ignored as mainstream journalists don’t live there. Telling these stories could help bring about change.

McSweeney’s revitalised short story publishing in the US – what will do the same for investigative reporting?

[all of this inspired by Clay Shirky’s talk on the cognitive surplus]