Crowdsourcing in Journalism

By Joseph Sahyoun, Abbey Philpott, Ashleigh Mcalpine & Georgia Evans

What is it? 

Crowdsourcing is when a journalist gathers information from a specifically chosen large group of people by asking members of the general public for input into a story. This outsourcing of information means that journalists often uncover new unknown evidence and information as they have access to a broader range of perspectives (Aitamurto, 2019). Through structured or unstructured callouts, crowdsourcing invites people to have input in a story which provides the journalist with a wide variety of new knowledge and creates connections between the audience and the way the story is told. 

What is the benefit? 

Crowdsourcing is quite beneficial as it employs a number of individuals to focus on a specific topic. It not only creates access to great ideas and marketing strategies but also helps with investigative processes. It provides unexpected solutions to tough problems and reduces management processes. Journalists specifically can find inaccessible information through the use of crowdsourcing. It can establish a collective effort of knowledge, material and can thus be beneficial as it opens a journalist contact information. It also aids media companies in the lowering costs, whilst simultaneously accessing a broader range of information.  

How does it relate to journalists? 

Due to the growing advancements of the internet and online content, journalists are now able to utilise crowdsourcing as a means of gathering information and data regarding their audiences. It is mainly being used by journalists as a knowledge-search method and a way to engage readers. Using crowdsourcing, journalists are able to find information that would otherwise be impossible to gather for their research. However a major flaw within the use of crowdsourcing within journalism is the way that in some circumstances it negates the objectivity and accuracy of the writing, which are two integral parts of the journalistic goals. 

Strategies used to employ it?

Voting: using the community’s judgement and leveraging it to organise and filter content. The most popular form of crowdsourcing
Crowd Wisdom: “Given the right set of conditions, the crowd will almost outperform any number of employees – a fact that many companies are increasingly seeking to exploit”. The best example of this is Wikipedia

Crowd Creation: asking individuals to film TV commercials, perform language translation, or solve challenging scientific problems. This can be combined with voting to create marketing campaigns. Threadless.com uses this to create a contest where people create new T-shirt designs to sell on the site
Crowdfunding: collective cooperation, attention, and trust, by people who network and pool their money, resources, and other assets to finance or help individuals/groups.

Example of Crowdsourcing in Journalism 

In 2018, The Guardian posted a tweet asking for help for people to share their experiences in Autism Awareness Week. They requested for people with Autism to email their experiences and issues to The Guardian, particularly those issues that they feel are not reported on enough. The Guardian aimed to use these first hand stories to create news articles that are based on the public’s real life experiences.

This is often done by The Guardian in using articles to crowdsource topics and actively invite the audience to share their opinions on. They often will have an email link at the bottom of the article inviting viewers. The Guardian has the moral code of ‘open journalism’ insisting the importance of the public in obtaining knowledge and using that to cover news.

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