An interesting experiment in “pro-am” journalism has been announced by Jay Rosen’s NewAssignment.Net and and the Huffington Post. The idea is that amateurs (unpaid) will be recruited to cover the campaigns of presidential contenders in group blogs. The blogs will also contain useful information about the candidates, their speeches and news articles.
Arianna Huffington says this citizen journalism will be in addition to the coverage provided by Huffinton Post staff, regular bloggers and aggregation. In her words: “Our volunteer reporters will aim to provide an authentic counter-narrative to the lockstep consensus we often get from the mainstream media, and will take inspiration from bottom up efforts such as TPM Muckraker.”
Our idea is not complicated: itâ€™s campaign reporting by a great many more people than would ever fit on the bus that the boys (and girls) of the press have famously gotten on and off every four years, as they try to cover the race for president.
So instead of one well-placed reporter trailing John Edwards wherever he goes (which is one way of doing it) some 40 or 50 differently-placed people tracking different parts of the Edwards campaign, all with peculiar beats and personal blogs linked together by virtue of having a common editor and a page through which the best and most original stuff filters out to the greater readership of the Web, especially via the Huffington Post.
There will also be content at NewAssignment.Net. Rosen explains that behind each candidate page will be a contributorsâ€™ network built by hand, made up of people who would like to participate in the 2008 election by claiming a campaign beat and making their own news and commentary, in collaboration with others doing the same thing (but coming from a different place.) All overseen by an editor paid to make the whole thing run, and evaluated by how good the twelve pages are.
It will be fascinating to see how this works and whether it produces the stories that engage readers.