Sunday, January 17, 2010...11:43 am

News:rewired session – crowdsourcing

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#newsrw As reported elsewhere, the Crowdsourcing session at news:rewired was a fractious affair. Setting that aside – here are some lessons learned.
Key question: Does crowdsourcing = crowd following?
Make sure you’re doing what journalists normally do – go to where people talk and eavesdrop.
Ruth Barnett, multimedia producer at Sky News, outlined some of the issues Sky has had to handle dealing with crowdsourced material.
#Iranian election Twitter coverage:

  • As soon as something becomes a trending topic the material becomes less reliable and less useful
  • First 24 hours has peak value
  • As the conversation becomes wider, it becomes more diluted

Sky also uses crowdsourcing-type tools to allow collaborative professional journalism – dubbed teamsourcing.
Problems with crowdsourced material

  • Can exclude the poor and marginal groups
    How universal is access to content creation and crowdsourcing tools? There’s an in-built bias in technology and platforms that means some stories won’t be told
  • Legal problems
    Make sure you know where your material is coming from – different territories have different rules (on the use of telephoto-lens cameras, for example, or libel)
  • Is the source genuine?
    Make sure you can verify its authenticity. Content mediation services such as NewsCred can be a guide to the authenticity of crowdsourced material.

Kate Day, head of communities at, noted that you can shape the demographic of an online community.

  • The community: MyTelegraph users tend to be 45-65 – the same demographic as the newspaper
  • The reason: MyTelegraph was heavily promoted in the offline newspaper – attracting a user-base of readers who are interested in talking to like-minded people
  • The result: a community of bloggers and commenters that is older than the normal online readership of

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