As blogs caught on, many assumed there would be contention or competition between bloggers and journalists, but around the time of the Berkman Center's Blogging, Journalism, and Credibility conference, Jay Rosen of NYU announced that "bloggers vs journalists was over." Jay, a journalism professor with outstanding credentials as well as an active blogger, said at the time
I have been an observer and critic of the American press for 19 years. In that stretch there has never been a time so unsettled. More is up for grabs than has ever been up for grabs since I started my watch. And so it is fortunate that we meet next week on blogging, journalists and the social dynamics of user trust. For this is an exciting time in journalism. Part of the reason is the extension of "the press" to the people we have traditionally called the public.
In this blog item, Jay discussed how the era of the standalone journalist was ending, pointing to the possibility of a broader sense of free press where almost anybody can have the "means of production" to create a media presence. Obviously only a percentage of blogs will attempt real journalism, but the result will be much larger communities of correspondents swarming stories, the result being multifaceted perspectives and persistence in keeping stories alive (bloggers don't have editors telling them "this story's stale, move on," and they don't have corporate interests dictating what they can cover).
In the era since Jay wrote that item, much has happened. Former investigative journalist Krista Bradford experimented with a Center for Online Investigative Research, a framework for journalist/blogger collaboration on news stories. Dan Gillmor, author of We the Media, formed a citizen media blog, Bayosphere, then moved on to become the director of the Center for Citizen Media. More and more blogs appeared in newspapers, and some blogs and blog systems evolved to become more like professional media. A service called BlogBurst appeared to support blog content syndication to newspapers. Global Voices emerged as a robust aggregator of global blog content.
Now Rosen's instigated a platform for blogger/journalist collaboration called NewAssignment.net, "a way to fund high-quality, original reporting, in any medium, through donations to a non-profit."
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.
This project is similar to Krista Bradford's idea, which has sense been christened "networked journalism" by the ever-clueful Jeff Jarvis. Says Jarvis,
Networked journalism takes into account the collaborative nature of journalism now: professionals and amateurs working together to get the real story, linking to each other across brands and old boundaries to share facts, questions, answers, ideas, perspectives. It recognizes the complex relationships that will make news. And it focuses on the process more than the product.
What Jay proposes is a framework for journalism without media:
If I can improve it, get the funding, find people who know how to operate in the more open style, NewAssignment.Net would be a case of journalism without the media. That's the beauty part. Reporter + smart mob + editor with a fund get the story the press pack wouldn't, couldn't or didn't.
The idea is to create a kind of open source collaborative journalism, and leverage the combined knowledge and experience within social networks that are specifically focused on journalistic endeavor. The real power of the idea is that it's not just bloggers, not just social networks, not just journalists, but a collaborative combination of these elements, so that you have the wisdom of the many channeled through the professional capabilities of the few (journalists). (Note that Rosen needs funding to make this work. Craig Newmark is funding a test at $10K; if you can provide more, let him know: pressthink at journalism.nyu.edu. (Photo by Steve Rhodes)
Where do I find it?????