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How can the power of the crowd help make journalism better?

In this TEDxTalk Paul Lewis talks about the power of citizen journalism and how traditional news media can use it as a resource. Please watch the talk and share your opinions here.


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    Nov 6 2011: Interesting points, all. I think when we talk about crowdsourcing journalism we are really talking about two subjects: the ability of the crowd to document events in a way that professional journalists can gather and interpret and the ability of the crowd to broadcast it’s own interpretations of the news (through blogging and social networks).

    The former -- the crowd’s ability to give journalists an unprecedented bounty of primary documents -- is invaluable. It can sharpen the integrity of a story and intensify journalism’s power and responsibility to seek and expose the truth.

    But finding and exposing truth is only half the battle. A journalist cannot reward and punish the good and bad behavior in a government or business -- only the crowd has that power. That’s where the the crowd’s ability to broadcast their own voice -- now more loudly than ever -- comes into play. Only that voice can determine that nature of the conversation and the actions we take.

    But, I imagine you saying, can’t the crowd can also become a horde? An intemperate mass of reactionary vandals steering us toward inexpert and highly speculative opinions.

    Sure. But journalists often do this, too -- by picking the most sensationalist stories or by simply regurgitating both sides of a story as it’s narrated to them in an effort to ensure neutral unbiased reporting.

    When two sides argue for incompatible points one or both must be wrong. The Truth is always biased toward some side of a given argument. Unbiased reporting that comes from a desire not to alienate readers, listeners, or viewers (forced neutrality) is biased toward the side with the weaker argument. Fear of bias can lead reporters to muddle the truth and can have as devastating an effect as the horde -- especially considering it’s air of integrity.

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