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News Innovation and the Negotiation of Participation
Unformatted Document Text:  News Innovation and the Negotiation of Participation 21 opening the gates of content creation, manipulation, and distribution to make up for those shortcomings. The Spot Journalism (now Spot.Us) proposal is a good example of this. In his pitch for crowd-funded freelance reporting, David Cohn argues that regular journalists should do what they uniquely do best—investigate powerful institutions—and leave to the distributed crowd the work of choosing which stories are worth investigating through the micropayment donations they make. The result is a potential win-win for audiences seeking solid reporting and news organizations struggling to finance investigative journalism, made possible by user engagement: “readers will have a direct hand in what should be investigated and newspapers will have access to republish that content.” In a similar manner, greater citizen participation was seen as a way of solving the “gathering” problem of journalism—that is, the inability of the mainstream press to give sufficient attention to a topic of niche concern, not to mention the scarcity of eyewitness journalists in comparison to the large number of citizens affected by crises. During a crisis situation, the mainstream press does not have a big enough footprint to report all incidents and/or needs in a given area. In addition, there is rarely a centralized point for reporting and searching for data about a particular situation—Ushahidi can help fill this gap by gathering reports from citizen journalists, governments, concerned outsiders and local organizations and presenting it at a central point. (Ushahidi) Finally, the logic of distributed control assumes that end-users, as a whole, might have better ideas than the original creators—a notion that challenges the professional worldview. For instance, the DocumentCloud project, a partnership of ProPublica and the New York Times that was awarded more than $700,000 in 2009, proposed setting up a website for the gathering and annotating of source documents used in investigative reporting. The proposal included plans for releasing an application programming

Authors: Lewis, Seth.
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News Innovation and the Negotiation of Participation 21 
 
opening the gates of content creation, manipulation, and distribution to make up for those 
shortcomings. The Spot Journalism (now Spot.Us) proposal is a good example of this. In 
his pitch for crowd-funded freelance reporting, David Cohn argues that regular journalists 
should do what they uniquely do best—investigate powerful institutions—and leave to 
the distributed crowd the work of choosing which stories are worth investigating through 
the micropayment donations they make. The result is a potential win-win for audiences 
seeking solid reporting and news organizations struggling to finance investigative 
journalism, made possible by user engagement: “readers will have a direct hand in what 
should be investigated and newspapers will have access to republish that content.” In a 
similar manner, greater citizen participation was seen as a way of solving the “gathering” 
problem of journalism—that is, the inability of the mainstream press to give sufficient 
attention to a topic of niche concern, not to mention the scarcity of eyewitness journalists 
in comparison to the large number of citizens affected by crises. 
During a crisis situation, the mainstream press does not have a big enough 
footprint to report all incidents and/or needs in a given area. In addition, there is 
rarely a centralized point for reporting and searching for data about a particular 
situation—Ushahidi can help fill this gap by gathering reports from citizen 
journalists, governments, concerned outsiders and local organizations and 
presenting it at a central point. (Ushahidi) 
 
Finally, the logic of distributed control assumes that end-users, as a whole, might 
have better ideas than the original creators—a notion that challenges the professional 
worldview. For instance, the DocumentCloud project, a partnership of ProPublica and the 
New York Times that was awarded more than $700,000 in 2009, proposed setting up a 
website for the gathering and annotating of source documents used in investigative 
reporting. The proposal included plans for releasing an application programming 


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