Jay Rosen, a professor of journalism at New York University, has been working on ways to involve the public in journalism creation for more than a decade. Now his Assignment Zero has captured attention – and the interest of journalism companies. Assignment Zero is the first project of Rosen’s newassignment.net initiative. Basically, it’s a ‘crowdsourcing’ experiment which involves knowledgeable and curious members of the public in the reporting, editing and writing of stories.
New Assignment.Net is a non-profit site that tries to spark innovation in journalism by showing that open collaboration over the Internet among reporters, editors and large groups of users can produce high-quality work that serves the public interest, holds up under scrutiny, and builds trust.
A second aim is to figure out how to fund this work through a combination of online donations, micro-payments, traditional fundraising, syndication rights, sponsorships, advertising and any other method that does not compromise the site’s independence or reputation.At New Assignment, pros and amateurs cooperate to produce work that neither could manage alone. The site uses open source methods to develop good assignments and help bring them to completion. It pays professional journalists to carry the project home and set high standards; they work closely with users who have something to contribute. The betting is that (some) people will donate to stories they can see are going to be great because the open methods allow for that glimpse ahead.
Lots more information at the site, including video interview, podcast, a five-part series about the plans, and how to get involved yourself if you’re interested. I’m glad the first project was a bit delayed from the target launch date of 1 April 2007, never an auspicious day/month combination to start anything.