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Your New Assignment, Should You Choose To Accept, Is A New Adventure In Journalism

(AP / CBS)
The indefatigable Jay Rosen over at PressThink this morning has announced a new adventure in "open-source" journalism – With the help of a $10,000 grant from Craig Newmark, the man who put the "craig" into craigslist, the idea is to bring together professional journalists and the audience in collaborative effort. Jeff Jarvis explains it this way: "This is publicly supported journalism. The public will come to with story ideas and will collaborate on honing them there." Rosen has a lengthy Q&A up on the new effort that you should read. Here's the opening answer to the question, "what is it?":
In simplest terms, a way to fund high-quality, original reporting, in any medium, through donations to a non-profit called NewAssignment.Net.

The site uses open source methods to develop good assignments and help bring them to completion; it employs professional journalists to carry the project home and set high standards so the work holds up. There are accountability and reputation systems built in that should make the system reliable. The betting is that (some) people will donate to works they can see are going to be great because the open source methods allow for that glimpse ahead.

In this sense it's not like donating to your local NPR station, because your local NPR station says, "thank you very much, our professionals will take it from here." And they do that very well. New Assignment says: here's the story so far. We've collected a lot of good information. Add your knowledge and make it better. Add money and make it happen. Work with us if you know things we don't.

But I should add: NewAssignment.Net doesn't exist yet. I'm starting with the idea.