Election '08: Cyber-Watchdogs

April 25, 2008

Citizen journalism in political reporting creates more questions

Hey I thought we were going to get answers to this online media world not more questions.

During Marc Cooper’s discussion of citizen journalism today, he asked, “Why aren’t mainstream newspapers taking advantage of citizen journalists or cyber sourcing for national political stories?” To many newspaper professionals, his question may have sounded like, “Hey, why not get free labor to help your reporting team?” This statement prompted a discussion that was cut short. Yet, it made me think about a couple of things. If newspapers hire free writers to cover political campaigns, where does that leave staff reporters? And if stories from citizen journalists like Mayhill Fowler of HuffingtonPost.com’s Off the Bus (who broke the story about Obama’s use of the word “bitter” and more) become more popular, do you have to be a “professional” journalist to have a “credible” story? Hey, by the way, what part does credibility play in this new and evolving world of modern journalism? I thought we were going to get some answers to this shifting online media world not more questions. Interested in provoking yourself even more? Cooper reminded the audience to take a look at Jay Rosen’s blog entry on “The Unchartered

April 25, 2008


The Numbers are Ready

Political reporting is getting easier and easier thanks to supporting digital novelty sites that group statistics and numbers, and list interest groups’ involvement in legislature. MAPLight.org is non-profit organization whose idea behind the technology is to connect the inputs and outputs, that is to say, to publicly post politician’s every move from fund raising, to campaign contribution to lobbying contributions. This is heaven for an investigative journalist. Dan Newman, co-founder and executive director of MAPLight.org said that the staff and research interns (free hire?) collect and put together the numbers for us, journalists, to interpret. Journalists, in turn, can utilize these resources to craft complex reports, stories, exposes in the spirit of the true watchdog journalist.

April 25, 2008

Value of transparency?

Transparency vs. illusion of truth

Marc Cooper has said that what the public and what he personally values is transparency rather than this illusion of “truth” presented by the media.  Is this the direction media is heading?  Openly bias? 

April 25, 2008

Go Deep

“Googling” does not count for online research. You must go deep.

During today’s session on “Cyber Sleuthing” led by Margot Williams from The New York Times, I realized that I must “go deep.” No, I am not referring to a psychology state, being reflective or even improving my meditation abilities. And “going deep” doesn’t refer to thinking deeper philosophically. Williams advised journalists that a Google search for story research isn’t enough. And we must use various online sources to mine the internet and discover the real nuggets we’ll need for our stories. According to Williams, Google only indexes about 10 percent of the web and “doesn’t give us a leg up on anybody.” There is a whole world of information out there on the world wide web (pun intended) because the it has multiple layers: surface and deep. Williams provided some helpful information to access the “deep web” and several valuable web sites to find information on just about anything. Stay tuned because Knight Digital promised to post the information to help our online research and stories go deeper.

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This blog reflects the way a group of USC Annenberg graduate students interpret what they hear during the three-day workshop: Election '08: Unleashing the Cyber-Watchdogs. We invite you to comment on what you read or to contribute your own insight and ideas to the concepts we are discussing.

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