Citizen journalism is all the buzzword in mainstream media these days. The theory -- one I subscribe to, for the record -- is "just plain folk" are better connected in the big scheme of things than a handful of people in a newsroom, isolated as they are from reality by both world view and geography.
MPR has its Public Insight Network to break down these barriers, although the pathway to the listener/reader still requires things to travel along the "old-fashioned" route.
Some other mainstream media eliminates the middle-man altogether. On Friday, that didn't work so well when iReport.com, a "citizen journalism" site with ties to CNN reported Apple boss Steve Jobs had a heart attack.
The report sent Apple's stock tumbling to a 17-month low, and brought out the citizen journalist naysayers.
"It's a classic example of letting the Internet genie out of the bottle before proving if it's true," said Tobe Berkovitz, associate dean of Boston University's College of Communications. "The advantage you have with citizen journalism is you have a wide net of sources, but the problem is there's no gatekeeper."
But the fools are the ones who believed the post, suggests Dan Gillmor, who runs the Center for Citizen Media. "This is precisely the same warning that should (but doesn't) come with comment boards on major newspaper websites. But you have to believe that no one with a shred of common sense takes the random ranting below, say, a Washington Post article as anything terribly serious."
Is this some sort of watershed moment for citizen journalism? Probably not; mainstream media has been getting stuff wrong for years, but usually not deliberately. Still, says Sarah Perez at Read Write Web, it's an important moment for mainstream media to consider how it integrates citizen journalism.
We're interested in seeing how will CNN respond to this muddying of their good name. Will they disassociate themselves a bit from iReport? Or will they just be happy for the pageviews it brought? And will this give pause to other news outlets thinking of launching citizen journalism sites of their own? It's very possible. In these tough economic times, news reports that affect how the markets move are taken very seriously.
An obvious step in the right direction is that real names be used in citizen journalism. And the legal process itself might well solve the problem. The person that seeded the clouds with the Jobs story? He may go to jail.(1 Comments)
Posted at 7:25 AM on October 4, 2008
by Bob Collins
Here's an update on the live-blogging experiment on Thursday night using the newer software, CoverItLive. It failed the test. Unknown to me going into the debate, the CIL server slapped a limit on how many people could view the live blog. For us, I think it was something like 187 people at a time; that's way too few for a blog like this.
So we're going to go back to the "old" system, which is just typing in the regular blog itself, and comments can be added to the comment section. It might not be as "pretty," but we think more people will have the opportunity to take part.
Thanks for your patience. The next presidential debate is Tuesday night and I hope you'll see fee to join me here.
Last evening, A Survey USA poll done for KSTP showed Norm Coleman well out in front of Al Franken in the race for Minnesota's U.S. Senate seat. On Saturday morning, a Minnesota Poll for the Star Tribune showed Al Franken well out in front of Norm Coleman for Minnesota's U.S. Senate seat.
I know what you're thinking: Something's messed up here.
Over at MinnPost, politicos David Brauer and Eric Black parsed the two polls and found it appears to hinge on the Star Tribune's practice of weighting the pool of respondents in favor of Democrats, figuring that more Democrats will vote in November than Republicans.
The Star Tribune poll involved more respondents contacted by a human on the telephone. Survey USA was a robopoll -- an automated voice guides the person taking the poll.
Whose poll is more accurate? That's the great thing about being a pollster. By the time someone checks your work, you've cashed the check and, besides, polling is just a snapshot in time. It's not a projection.
But that won't stop me from looking back and checking anyway.
Conclusion? It was a heck of an accurate poll. The same poll, by the way, had Tim Pawlenty and Mike Hatch tied at 45%. And, indeed, when all was said and done, Mike Hatch lost by 1 percent of the votes cast.
A Star Tribune poll at the same time, had Klobuchar up 21 percent.
Close, but not as close as Survey USA. (Updated: This is incorrect as David pointed out. Strib closer than Survey USA)
About 6 weeks before the election, Survey USA had Klobuchar up by 8 points, with Pawlenty and Hatch separated by 1 percent in favor of Pawlenty. Star Tribune had Klobuchar up 24 points.
So this isn't the first time these two polls have been very different, but the current differences are unusually stark. The Democrats will say the Star Tribune is the accurate poll. Republicans, who've made a cottage industry out of assailing the Minnesota Poll in the past, will swear by the Survey USA poll.
As the saying goes, past performance is no indicator of future results. But where polling is concerned, it's at least as good as any other guesswork that's out there.(5 Comments)