F2C Day 2, Part 1 : The media – the panel

Day two of Freedom to Connect started off with a “Peer Production News Panel”, featuring Dan Gillmor, Mark Tapscott, Bill Allison, and Jonathan Krim. Dan mentioned his personal cliché about his audience knowing more about the subject than he does, and Mark Tapscott echoed that.

The discussion moved to the idea of distributed journalism. Tapscott suggested that it might be better called collaborative journalism, since distributed can sometimes connote a hierarchy, and he wasn’t sure that was necessarily the case for all of the times that citizens work together on the journalistic process.

There were discussions about New Assignment.Net, and how best to do distributed journalism. One of the problems that people seemed to be struggling with is the classic, “it would be easier just to do it myself” problem. In some cases, the amount of time spent coordinating efforts and training citizens that don’t know how to do investigative research seemed to be more than it would be to do the research oneself.

As I heard this discussion, my mind wandered back to Robert Lewis Stevenson’s quote, “To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive, and the true success is to labour.” Perhaps some of these projects could be better done by a single individual, or a small group. Yet that is focusing on the arriving, the information gathered by the investigation. Instead, the true success might be to get more people to think about how news and information is gathered and the to think more critically about what they hear and read.

I think this leads nicely into my reaction to a question that was raised. Does distributive (or collaborative) journalism challenge the concept of craft in journalism? Does it somehow make the citizen journalism even less credible? Instead, I would argue that it in fact strengthens the concept of craft in journalism. As more people become involved in the craft of journalism, the more people will understand the importance of the craft.

This led to Gillmor’s observation that “Journalism is one of the least transparent industries” and some interesting discussions on the backchannel, which I’ll save for a different post, on the need for more journalist/blogger confabs.

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