Some news startups, like Eyewitness Media Hub and Storyful, are built around social media and user-generated content, with reporters trained in verifying and reporting from it. But journalists in most newsrooms don’t receive the same training, which can make it difficult to spot and then accurately report on emerging stories.
In September, Facebook announced Signal, a dashboard to help reporters gather news across Facebook and Instagram. And on Monday, a group called the First Draft Coalition is launching a website, First Draft News, that will pull together resources for gathering, verifying and creating stories from user-generated content.
…industry news, case studies, how-to guides, tools, training resources, interactives and multimedia features exploring the crossroads between journalism and the social web.
As well as keeping up to date with this new field of journalism, First Draft News will provide guides to help journalists better understand social newsgathering, verification techniques, ethics and the law, in-depth investigations, fakes and hoaxes, and other issues affecting the modern newsroom.
Alastair Reid, the site’s managing editor, plans to publish a couple of new pieces of content every day. “The foundation of good journalism is the same, but it’s a new world, and it’s not always easy to adapt and bring that conversation together,” he said. “We can navigate this minefield collectively.”
In the sidebar of the story, the Times asked its readers: “Have you had a hip replacement or other procedure? Tell us about your costs and bills. Join the discussion.” That callout elicited 512 responses, and a whole database of potential sources for Rosenthal to use on future stories.
Those sources became the foundation for Rosenthal’s ten-part series, “Paying Till it Hurts,” on the overwhelming costs of medical care. Today, the Times has a database of about 12,000 contributors and an active Facebook group that reporters can access.
Rosenthal’s use of crowdsourcing is one of the best practices highlighted in “Guide to Crowdsourcing,” a report out Friday from Columbia’s Tow Center for Digital Journalism.
In the report, authors Mimi Onuoha, Jeanne Pinder, and Jan Schaffer present a number of different ways journalists and news organizations can go about utilizing their readership and communities.
The report defines crowdsourcing as “the act of specifically inviting a group of people to participate in a reporting task — such as newsgathering, data collection, or analysis — through a targeted, open call for input; personal experiences; documents; or other contributions.”
While many publications will scour social media sites for stories (“Twitter reacts to X”), the report specifies that crowdsourcing requires direct engagement from newsrooms, and “the people engaging in crowdsourcing need to feel they have agency in contributing to a news story.”
The report lists six general ways outlets tend to crowdsource:
— Voting — prioritizing which stories reporters should tackle.
— Witnessing — sharing what you saw during a news event.
— Sharing personal experiences — telling what you know about your life experience.
— Tapping specialized expertise — contributing data or unique knowledge.
— Completing a task — volunteering time or skills to help create a news
— Engaging audiences — joining in call-outs that can range from informative to playful.
Outlets such as ProPublica, WNYC, and The Guardian have thoroughly integrated crowdsourcing into their newsroom operations. At other outlets, such as the Times and CNN, a smaller number of journalists have been specifically focused on crowdsourcing efforts.
Crowdsourcing can be used throughout the reporting process. The report highlights Jennifer Brandel’s work with Curious City at WBEZ in Chicago and now at her startup Hearken, which invites audience members to suggest and vote on stories to cover.
Regardless of the crowdsourcing method a news organization chooses to use, the report notes that the best crowdsourcing campaigns “are high-touch, labor-intensive efforts.” Despite that effort, though, the report says that when it’s done well, crowdsourcing allows news organizations to interact with readers in ways that were impossible before the Internet.
Our research shows that crowdsourcing has been credited with helping to create amazing acts of journalism. It has transformed newsgathering by opening up unprecedented opportunities for attracting sources with new voices and information, allowed news organizations to unlock stories that otherwise might not have surfaced, and created opportunities for them to experiment with the possibilities of engagement just for the fun of it.
A new Pew report finds that beliefs in the freedom of the press vary substantially by country, with support for both free speech and a free press “contingent on the topic.” In general, while “large majorities across the globe” believe that the people should be able to criticize the government publicly, there’s less consensus on “things that are offensive either to minorities or religious groups…that is sexually explicit or that calls for violent protests.”
People are also divided on whether the press should “freely publish on sensitive issues related to national security,” according to the report. And there are differences in how younger and older people look at these issues.
The report’s authors surveyed people in 38 countries. Among the findings:
— There’s widespread support for a free press, but “roughly half or more in 27 of the 38 countries surveyed say the government should be able to prevent the media from publishing information about sensitive issues related to national security.” There are demographic divides on this issue:
In 16 of the 38 countries surveyed, people ages 18 to 29 are more likely than those ages 50 and older to say that people should be able to make sexually explicit statements in public. And young people in Europe, Canada, the U.S., Australia, South Korea, Russia and Senegal are more supportive than their elders of the press being able to publish sensitive information about national security issues.
— Americans and Canadians are more tolerant of “being able to say things in public that are offensive to minorities,” but in many other countries, “majorities say the government should be able to prevent speech that is offensive to minority groups.” Members of minority groups are less likely to support this, however:
For example, in the U.S., non-whites (57%), including Hispanics, are much less likely to agree that people should be able to say these types of statements in public than are whites (72%). Similarly, Arabs in Israel (15%) are less supportive of this form of speech than Jews (39%).
You can look at a sortable table here, and read the full report here.
Fusion CEO Isaac Lee is taking on an additional role — he’ll be the chief news and digital officer (a newly created position) at Univision, the top media company serving Hispanics in the United States. Lee will also remain in his lead role at Fusion. (Fusion is a joint endeavor of Univision and Disney.)
Lee had been president of news and digital at Univision and will add responsibilities for multicultural strategy and music in his new role.
According to the release:
Lee will manage key areas of the company’s growth strategy, including UCI’s comprehensive Multicultural strategy, which includes FUSION, El Rey, Flama and The Root. He will also develop an integrated music strategy that will include UCI’s music tentpole events and alignment with the Company’s Radio programming team. Lee will maintain responsibility for Univision News, including editorial oversight across network, local and digital platforms, backed by the strong team he has built.
The move underscores Univision’s commitment to “meet and exceed the demands of our community, especially digitally connected millennials,” Univision president and CEO Randy Falco said in a statement.
For the quarter ending September 30, Univision’s revenues were $801.5 million, up 10 percent from the same period last year. Digital advertising revenue for the period was $20.7 million, up 0.5 percent from this time in 2014 — though the 2014 totals were inflated because of the FIFA World Cup.
A previous version of this story stated that Lee’s new title is “chief digital officer.” It is “chief news and digital officer.”
Hot (financial) takes are coming to Bloomberg. Its newest editorial initiative, Gadfly, launched over the weekend as an extension of the existing Bloomberg View opinions section, with a sizable roster of editors and columnists drawn from other news organizations as well as from within Bloomberg.
“Our goal is to provide rapid, smart takeaways on the day’s most important news on markets, finance, companies, and technology,” Bloomberg editor-in-chief John Micklethwait wrote in a note introducing the new section on Sunday.
“We think of our audience as including both the sophisticated Bloomberg terminal user and the deeply curious general interest reader,” Gadfly executive editor Timothy O’Brien wrote in an email to the Lab. “We respect that both of those audiences have limited amounts of valuable time, and we want to be their first stop for understanding how to think about the most important business news of the moment.”
The sleek new site was designed with mobile audiences and social sharing in mind, with a focus on easily digestible charts to illustrate each piece of analysis. It looks a bit like Quartz’s homepage, with stories presented one after the other in an endless scroll.
Gadfly is the first major editorial project to debut under the former Economist editor-in-chief Micklethwait’s leadership, Politico notes. It was described back in July as being reminiscent of Lex from The Financial Times, Heard on the Street from The Wall Street Journal, and Breakingviews from Reuters (Gadfly’s current staff includes journalists whose previous credits include those very sites). As for what differentiates it from these potential financial commentary competitors, O’Brien highlighted the following:
— We see insightful analysis wedded to great writing and the unique, data-mining power of the Bloomberg Terminal as a differentiator in and of itself.
— We’ll cover a broader range of corporate, financial and market topics than many of our competitors, and we’ll cover those topics with dozens of columnists on the ground globally.
— We’re doubling down in regions like the Asia-Pacific when some of our competitors are pulling back. Great columnists aren’t commodities and we plan to continue stocking up on the best. Quality is a differentiator in a noisy, unfiltered news world.
— We’ll try to be closer to the news, and write more promptly off the news, than many of our competitors — though we’ll never sacrifice quality for speed. The “sweet spot” is finding a balance between speed and quality and then targeting the right subject matter. Those are Gadfly’s twin goals.
— We take mobile, social, platform development and design seriously and are using those as competitive advantages on the web.
Some weren’t quite sure what to make of Gadfly’s approach, or felt it was entering a crowded field.
Regardless, Gadfly writers have a major leg up — they can draw on the enormous benefit that is the Terminal (in case you forget, a little tag at the end of those Bloomberg stories reads “Before it’s here, it’s on the Bloomberg Terminal.”) At the moment, all the site’s content is free (and ad-free), but Terminal subscribers get it 15 minutes early.
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