Crowdsourcing voluntary amateur journalism.

Anonymous has been getting a fair bit of press lately. They’ve been blamed by some parties, most notably Sony, for the recent data theft involving the Playstation Network. But hacking is not the full extent of Anonymous. They also serve as an activist group. To this end, they have set up Operation Leakspin, a movement dedicated to going through the leaks from WikiLeaks, determining which are important, analyzing them, and then producing journalism around them. The members are not professional journalists, at least not publicly, but rather dedicated citizens.

Is this a potential future model for journalism that could catch on? WikiLeaks has preferred to give its data to professional news organizations, but might the future of not merely leaks, but any bit of large data be to have teams of volunteer citizens go through it to find the stories within? It is certainly more economically viable to rely on hundreds of pairs of eyes working for free than it would be to hire enough professional journalists to go through the data in a satisfactory amount of time. Still, these volunteers likely lack the training to have the necessary critical eye to fully separate the wheat from the chaff and see the bigger picture.

However, given the economic reality of the journalism industry and its seemingly dwindling capability to support large staffs, the prospect of these crowdsourced efforts may not seem ideal, but may become the only realistic method. Yet again, the professionals are bringing in amateurs to help make their jobs possible.

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