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NewAssignment.net: An experiment in participatory journalism

photo of Michel Bauwens

Michel Bauwens
25th July 2006


[orignally posted at Smartmobs]

[bliki | what is a bliki?]

[via BuzzMachine]

Jay Rosen has launched an open source and open funded journalism experiment called NewAssignment.net. Here’s how it works:

Alright, what is it? In simplest terms, a way to fund high-quality, original reporting, in any medium, through donations to a non-profit called NewAssignment.Net.

The site uses open source methods to develop good assignments and help bring them to completion; it employs professional journalists to carry the project home and set high standards so the work holds up. There are accountability and reputation systems built in that should make the system reliable. The betting is that (some) people will donate to works they can see are going to be great because the open source methods allow for that glimpse ahead.

In this sense it’s not like donating to your local NPR station, because your local NPR station says, “thank you very much, our professionals will take it from here.� And they do that very well. New Assignment says: here’s the story so far. We’ve collected a lot of good information. Add your knowledge and make it better. Add money and make it happen. Work with us if you know things we don’t.

But I should add: NewAssignment.Net doesn’t exist yet. I’m starting with the idea.

For whom would the site exist? Who are the customers?

People who are interested in the news, online regularly and accustomed to informing themselves. They would come because New Assignment does stories the regular news media doesn’t do, can’t do, wouldn’t do, or already screwed up. And it allows for participation that is effective.

A sub-group of “customer� would be donors, wherever they are found. One of the major unknows is whether such donors exist.

Finally, professional journalists with the required skills and a commitment to truth. They would be there looking for contract work.

For what kind of work?

Well, the site gives out real assignments— paid gigs with a chance to practice the craft of reporting at a high level. Because they’re getting paid, the journalists who contract with New Assignment have the time—and obligation—to do things well. That means working with the smart mobs who gave rise to the assignment and handed it over to an editor and correspondent with the story part-of-the-way there.

Is this about unleashing open source journalism, or hiring reporters to get the story?

Rather than proclaim one over the other, give us the advantages of both. I think this is what people listening to the conversation about citizens media want to see. And they’re right to want that. They are also saying: stop with the proclamations, on with the demonstrations. Let’s see the work. What can networked journalism, as Jeff Jarvis now calls it (“professionals and amateurs working together to get the real story�) actually do?

Read the rest at NewAssignment.net-Sam Rose

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