How do these theories and ideas about what is happening to individuals, in businesses, and in society fit the realities of the marketplace? In this section, we consider business models that are working for journalists and for anyone who aims to communicate about the world around them.
In considering news and journalism as we have defined in the 5th Estate, it is useful to contrast the private sector and the public sector. We have discussed how news is a public good. With private goods and and in the profit sector, when performance increases, improvement merit a premium price. In the public sector, however, improved performance is a political or social good, not a price. The economic ideas that a business model is created from need to account for the non-monetary nature of public or social good.
New ways to collaborate.
We’ve all heard the expression “two heads are better than one.” James Surowiecki’s interest in how markets work led him to write Wisdom of the Crowd. Surowiecki realized that it wasn’t just markets that were smart, crowds of all sorts could be smart, too. A crowd is any group that can work collectively to solve a problem or take action. What makes a crowd “smart?” If we understand how to identify smart crowds, how can we harness this knowlege to make sense of it, and use it in decision-making? There are several journalistic projects that are combining technology and social networking to find solutions to the challenge of using collective intelligence.
For what we’ll call crowdsourcing to work, the crowd needs to be diverse. It needs to be decentralized, and non-hierarchical so that no one individual dominates the outcome of decisions. Individuals in a crowd need to be independent, and make their own choices, and here is where technology can help out, a smart crowd needs some kind of tool or process to summarize the independent opinions into one collective verdict
First, the community submits short quotes, citing a source where the quote can be verified, or flagging it. Then responses to a quote to either support, challenge or give more context that cite sources are added, and one can be marked as the best response to the quote. Members of the project can also participate in the discussion which doesn’t require sources to be cited, but is a great place to debate and express thoughts that may not fit elsewhere.
The result is an annotated discussion of a text. Then, armed with the multiple viewpoints and further information provided by the responses and discussion, the community judges and rates the item. From all of these actions, reputation scores are generated for any person or group involved, even the sources. Reputations encourage social capital and help the community identify the credibility of its members.
Organizing over need, getting funded because it was important.
Detailed a community of journalists which formed after the murder of Bay Area Editor Chauncey Bailey who was doing the “Your Bakery Story”
Journalists formed an investigative collaborative that works with but isn’t “owned” by any local news, TV, etc. organization.
This could become a model for how reporters from competitive newsrooms can do joint investigations.
The journalists did NOT collaborate without effort
The story was the “unit of focus”
Stories broke in the Tribune (a newspaper)
Stories are picked up by broadcast on TV
After print and broadcast, the story goes online and the process continues.
Reporters who weren’t getting paid, applied for foundation money (SPJ, Knight)
Won an IRE award
Two experienced reporters are working with journalism teachers and students to produce investigations
These will be send to public broadcasting and other outlets
They want to complete 6-8 serious investigations per year.
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