Because journalists should crowdsource, too

Thanks to a tip from Dan Gilmoor, I caught this article from Robyn Tomlin, the editor of the Wilmington, NC Star News. It actually gives me hope that someone, somewhere, is willing to change the fundamental roadblock of a paper and satellite controlled media system.

One of my rants for the longest time has been that just because a newspaper has a blog (or a “Social Media Editor“) doesn’t mean that the newspaper is all of a sudden cruising in the carpool lane of the Information Highway.

Utilizing the Web for communication is important – that’s a no-duh moment – and constantly adding content around the day has been the biggest change. But it doesn’t become a blog just because you are delivering outside of the morning edition, adding a comments section to an article *from* the morning edition, or creating new video content in between the 6 and 11 o’clock news.

It all still just follows the mold of the old, top-down media model – which isn’t the only way to get information any more. In fact, it’s the slowest way of getting information. And by not acknowledging the interconnected world, whether as a journalistic ethic to not link to other sites or as an editorial directive, the story will never be full.

Robyn Tomlin, you get it. One-hundred percent. Journalism isn’t about getting scooped anymore – it needs to be about utilizing all available resources to get the full story. The biggest limitation of a newspaper (you know, outside of those massive printing expenditures) is that it’s stuck in one place and one source. The best you can do is “continued on Page A15” to get someone to another specific story in that same edition of that paper.

Here’s the part that really stood out to me from Tomlin’s comments (the links are hers):

Sholin quotes Chris Amico, the interactive editor for the PBS Online NewsHour, saying: “Humility is healthy. The more we get out of this mind set that we are the sole producers of useful content, the better off we’ll be in the long run.”

I couldn’t agree more.

I firmly believe that we are much better served by linking out to other voices, sources and even competing news organizations than we are ignoring them and hoping they’ll go away. In the end, we all share a goal of informing and educating our community.

So, let’s work as the crowd – bloggers and newspapermen, reporters and twitterers – to get the whole story. That’s the way everyone will benefit and prove that journalism is not a dying field. If you have to link around? So be it. Get the story together. Let’s get in the carpool lane.


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