Friday, 17 May 2013

How open is open? Sourcework and community verification.

Yesterday was your typical project delivery day... early start, unpredictable tangents and roadblocks, a sense of achievement and a late evening.

Battling with bandwidth has been an issue all week. It's clear we need to work further still on optimising our citizen reporting tool for web use in low-bandwidth conditions. However, the SMS component is working fantastically well. @Verdade have set up a shortcode that allows anyone on the two biggest cell networks in Mozambique (soon to be three) to text a report for free. Citizen Desk aggregates these and allows the editorial team to see at-a-glance all incoming SMS, tweets, facebook posts, YouTube videos and more.

Using our open liveblogging software, they can then post these with context to the web, either for community verification, or as a 'signal' blog (as opposed to the 'noise' of their Twitter and Facebook backchannels).

Of course this is a hot topic. As I wrote in yesterday's article...
"@Verdade do a lot of their source work in public, especially on Facebook, pushing out reports to the community for verification and backstory. Once clear details emerge, an article is created on their website and the url is posted back across to Facebook. Comments from their 30,000 followers rack up quickly. But, of course, many people are not online. @Verdade gets round this by having a blackboard outside their office where the articles of the day are posted. People respond in chalk with comments; the best of these are then photographed or transcribed and posted back to @Verdade's social network communities."
We wanted to build a tool that gave media the option on how and where to do their verification. To define their own community model.

There's a strange bias against certain media organisations however. When people like the amazing Andy Carvin do their sourcework in the open, it's seen as revolutionary. For other media organisations, they are seen as untrustworthy or not adhering to journalistic standards of verification. Why is that? Where do we draw the line between rumour and networked journalism?

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