06. Crowdsourcing

One of the Internet’s major innovations is to turn web users into newsbringers. It grants him a new role and a new position in newsmaking. For the journalist it’s an opportunity to forge news relationships with his readers.

New relationships : from the pyramid to the star.

Before the Internet, the journalist/reader relationship diagram was rather pyramidal. It was a one-sided type of relationship, from the journalist to his readers.

Thanks to the Internet, the pyramid turned into a star. Everyone can bring the news, and readers now can interact directly and instantly with journalists.

This evolution is probably one of the biggest ones for journalists. The same applies to institutions, NGOs, companies, etc. Everyone is potentially a medium nowadays, and journalists must take that into account.

How does crowdsourcing work ?

The first way to crowdsource is to use your community to pick relevant news. The British daily newspaper The Guardian asked its readers to help verify a 458.000 pages document listing MP’s expenses. More than 28.000 people helped. This method will become common: social networks have become huge and the amount of data published everyday on the Web has multiplied. Case in point : a page of a daily quality newspaper amounts to 1 Mo (10 to the 6th octets) data, and in 2010, a day on Twitter amounts to 70 To (10 to the 12th octets) data.

The second way to crowdsource is to ask your readers to send you basic piece of news they’re aware of. In India, that type of initiative was launched to help understand how deeply corruption affects everyday life. On the website, web users contribute anonymously to a database by giving their testimony : when, where and whom did they bribe ? The aggregation and analysis of that data helps paint a picture of daily corruption in Indian cities. This initiative could affect the local authorities’s politics.

Crowdfunding for reporting.

The other side of audience participation is linked to journalism funding. Many initiatives have been put in place to allow journalists to fund their newsmaking thanks to the generosity of donors. Crowdfunding hasn’t been mindblowingly useful for general interest newsmaking. However, some experiments such as are eye-catching.