Media Takes: Giving the 'smart mob' a voice in the media
On how NewAssignment will assure that the monied - companies with deep pockets, political parties will be prevented from influencing content if they contribute large sums.
What is the system of controls at U.S.News & World Report? At the Chicago Tribune and other places? It's editors. And we have editors. The editors stand between donors and journalists just as they do in newsrooms. This it one of the things about this design it is very traditional in that respect. If a donor wants to influence the outcome of an investigation, he or she would have to go through the editor. And the editor would not be wise to sell out to please a donor. Ultimately, the people we would have to answer to are the users, and it's not a good long-term play to bend coverage to a donor. You lose the trust you need to survive.
On how the venture will involve users in choosing stories.
Suppose we said that we have $10,000 to spend on an investigation. Do you have any ideas? We'll be testing whether in fact we can create an assignment online like that, whether we can find stories that a broad base of interested users want. You can't do this just by saying, "send us your ideas." You can never test the capacity of the public by opening the floodgates. Just having people email you their ideas is just about the dumbest thing. There will be a big learning curve there. How do you enable people to contribute something? ... We have to get the geeks interested.
On how he or the editors and reporters will manage the mob, its ideas, and, potentially, its reporting contributions.
Journalists have this instinctive image of users as the "wild mob." That the mob is going to get you here, get you there. That excesses are the outstanding features of the mob seen this way.
On the potential for the traditional media to hover at NewAssignment.Net, where story development is public, and poach story ideas.
That means we won.
On what stories he thinks the traditional media in recent years wouldn't do or screwed up and how NewAssignment could do better.
Mostly I don't mean particular stories. Mostly I mean that we know that stories fall through the cracks or don't get covered well. Our news system is not perfect. There are lots of stories out there that do need to be told. There are so many ways that the people feel the press failed them; that there have to be stories that an outside institution could have done.
On potential for success and/or failure of the venture.
All I want to do is test these ideas. I don't care if NewAssignment is some big empire in three years. But I want to find out if these ideas make sense. I don't know yet.
On the best result, outside of good journalism, he hopes from the effort.
To show that there is a wisdom in the public, there is wisdom in the crowd. That people do understand the need for truth and will in some way demand it. This is a current in American culture Jefferson was a believer in it, Whitman was a believer in it. There's a lot of intelligence out there, in all classes and stations in life, and we have to use it all.