Gannett to Crowdsource NewsThe article makes crowdsourcing sound promising - a way to reverse the drop of 30% in readers since 1985. And it is not the only model folks are tinkering with. (An example of how the Napster model could be adapted to newspapers, for instance, is mentioned here at co-render.) To me, it sounds like one of two things: either exploitative or incomplete. It could, in fact, be both.
Jeff Howe 11.03.06
The publisher of "America's newspaper" is turning to America to get its news.
According to internal documents provided to Wired News and interviews with key executives, Gannett, the publisher of USA Today as well as 90 other American daily newspapers, will begin crowdsourcing many of its newsgathering functions. Starting Friday, Gannett newsrooms were rechristened "information centers," and instead of being organized into separate metro, state or sports departments, staff will now work within one of seven desks with names like "data," "digital" and "community conversation."
The initiative emphasizes four goals: Prioritize local news over national news; publish more user-generated content; become 24-7 news operations, in which the newspapers do less and the websites do much more; and finally, use crowdsourcing methods to put readers to work as watchdogs, whistle-blowers and researchers in large, investigative features.
"This is a huge restructuring for us," said Michael Maness, the VP for strategic planning of news and one of the chief architects of the project. According to an e-mail sent Thursday to Gannett news staff by CEO Craig Dubow, the restructuring has been tested in 11 locations throughout the United States, but will be in place throughout all of Gannett's newspapers by May. "Implementing the (Information) Center quickly is essential. Our industry is changing in ways that create great opportunity for
Resorting to crowdsourcing - turning to readers for content - is actually a great example of the need for a corporate revolution. If the readers are going to become the writers, it suggests that ownership of the newspaper ought to be democratized as well. It is one thing for publishers to make exorbitant profits when they invest millions in complex and expensive publishing machinery and professional staff. It is quite another when the expense is Internet cheap and the staff is comprised of an odd hybrid of professionals and amateurs.
We've yet to fully embrace the implications of post-capitalist ownership. Distributing the ownership of the newspaper along with the work of creating it is just one of those implications.