Tuesday, February 19, 2008

A Polk for crowdsourcing

Josh Marshall and the gang at Talking Points Memo have won a coveted Polk Award for their coverage of the U.S. attorneys scandal of 2007, which eventually led to the resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Will Bunch calls it a "landmark day for bloggers," and it is. But it's also a landmark day for a certain kind of journalism.

You see, the TPM folks did not do that much original reporting. Rather, they relentlessly kept a spotlight on what other news organizations were uncovering and watched patterns emerge that weren't necessarily visible to those covering just a small piece of the story. This is crowdsourcing — reporting based on the work of many people, including your readers.

We'll be talking about crowdsourcing more in a few weeks. This week, though, keep in mind what Dan Gillmor says in the excerpt from "We the Media" that we're reading: "I take it for granted ... that my readers know more than I do — and this is a liberating, not threatening, fact of journalistic life."

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