Team Work

It’s easy to sell advertising around stories about creature comforts but tough to generate support for investigative journalism. Perhaps some of the media’s watchdog role can be taken up by citizen auditors using a new software API that makes it easy to distribute tasks, suggests one writer in a journal aimed at public officials.

Eric Kavanagh, web editor for an organization that trains data managers outlines his Citizen Auditor proposal in The Public Manager. Kavanagh noted the emergence of a relatively new software API called the Amazon Mechanical Turk that is already being used to distribute business tasks to part-timers working at home. Why not apply such tools to the public space to scour Katrina relief contracts for graft, Kavanagh asks. I’ll try to learn more on this for future posts.

Elsewhere in distributed newsgathering, the Poynter Institute writes about the German site Netzeitung. Poynter describes it as “a purely user-written news site … ‘moderators’ that are in charge of reading and fact checking are unsalaried super-users, not trained journalists … No one will get paid in this system.” It’s brand new and untested so let’s see how it works.

As for newspapers, Paid Content notes the good-news, bad-news economics of journalism’s workhorse: advertising revenues from newspaper online sites continues to grow, but is still projected to account for just 6.5 percent of the gross. Meanwhile, the century-old print newspaper is getting tired of paying all the bills.