Using the Crowd for Journalism

Friday, March 25, 2016 - 17:00
Mon, 03/21/2016 to Mon, 03/28/2016

While most journalism is produced by a single reporter or a small team, we are starting to see ways that much larger groups of people are becoming involved in creating news outputs. "Crowdsourcing" is a hot topic right now; many journalists are looking to the crowd for assistance in producing high-quality journalism, and readers are enjoying being involved with stories they care about before they are seen in print. In class, we discussed ways that crowds can actually produce lots of high-quality information, and ways that crowds can fail. For this week, write a story about how a large number of non-journalists have worked (or can work) together (possibly with professional journalists, possibly not) to produce journalism; this should be an example of how "the crowd" can help produce information. You can write about some actual event in the past, some currently operating group or organization, or a vision of a future crowd-powered journalism project.

Examples: Kickstarter; iStockPhoto; Flickr; The Tyee funding model; Amazon's Mechanical Turk; The Guardian's investigation into the MP Expense Scandal in the United Kingdom; Wikipedia; All Our Ideas; Wikileaks; Ushahidi; NYT and Netflix; Wikinews; Patreon; Waze;

For the example you choose, you should first briefly describe the example. Second, you should analyze the example in the context of the theory of "wisdom of crowds": is this situation likely to generate high-quality inputs? Or will it suffer from too much noise? Or not enough participation? This analysis should be the bulk of your essay, and should use concepts from the lecture and the readings. Finally, if you choose, you can also comment about whether this example is a sign of things to come in the field of Journalism.

Your essay must be entered into the system by Friday (3/25) at 5pm. It should be in the neighborhood of 300-500 words, and include a relevant image at the top of the article.

Over the weekend or on Monday, be sure to log into the class system. Try to read all of the stories from your fellow students, and (optionally) leave comments to the author about the essay. You will be assigned as a "Discussant" for one of the essays. Read that essay carefully; you will be asked to present that essay on Monday to the rest of the class. You will also "discuss" it by describing whether you agree with the argument in the essay or not, and why you think this example is interesting to think about (or not). Try to include both praise and criticism in your discussion.

Karen Hopper

My favorite piece of crowdsourced journalism right now is


Late last year, Google News Lab teamed up with the websit


Over the past week, I have given much thought to the idea


It is that time of the year when people fill out their NC

Logo of Ushahidi

Ushahidi means “testimony” in Swahili.