Crowdsourcing & Story Budgets

Newsrooms from Journal Register’s 18 dailies have supplied lists of stories they are attempting to crowdsource as part of this project. This page was set up to provide a venue for them to provide feedback on these story ideas and how to draw reader attention and interaction.

We will continue to post additional crowdsourcing resources on this page as well:

Jay Rosen on Assignment Zero:

As some of us conference at CUNY around networked journalism, here are my coordinates for the territory we need to be searching. I got them from doing a distributed trend story with Wired.com and thinking through the results.

The Poynter Institute

5 Ways to Crowdsource Easily, Legally & with Quality

Posted by Jeremy Caplan at 6:28 AM on May 12, 2010 When Jeff Howe coined the term “Crowdsourcing” in a 2006 Wired cover story, journalism was just tiptoeing beyond comments into the wild world of reader blogs.

Four years later, as journalism organizations race to find new remedies for a painful revenue drought, crowdsourcing is spreading into news organizations in myriad ways.

The Pottstown Mercury

Using print to ask direction questions as the Pottstown Mercury did on the bottom of A1

12 responses to “Crowdsourcing & Story Budgets

  1. Thanks for adding this thread. I hope folks use this to contribute many ideas that we can all use in the next three weeks.

    So far we have used Facebook, Twitter, our own website, the paper, handed out leaflets at a community festival and two of us appeared on a local radio show yesterday ( archived video at http://tinyurl.com/2v28kcp) to talk about BFP among other things. So far, response is slow, but we do have some interest and are going to target our questions to specific community leaders who can direct us to good sources.

    Among the things we are considering: A point/counterpoint conversation for sports with added commentary from FB or Twitter, and maybe a podcasted roundtable discussion; a reader-submitted photo page; getting people to send in video resumes for an unemployment story, getting a local historical guide involved with a July 4 story using a re-enactor on video to talk about local history.

  2. In Kingston, we’re using Twitter, our Facebook pages, and our print and web publications asking readers to:

    * Give us a sense about crime in the city,
    http://twitter.com/PaulatFreeman/status/15727295592;

    * Give us ideas of what to do with a dilapidated building in the heart of the city, http://twitter.com/PaulatFreeman/status/15787141254;

    If you actually click on the links (because I know you haven’t) you will see that we are asking readers to use #hashtags on Twitter so that the reporter can easily track the answers. On Facebook, all the responses usually are below the question, as seen as http://www.facebook.com/freeman (which you haven’t clicked on, either).

    * The sports department is asking for photos of die-hard Yankee and Mets fans, on its Twitter account (@freemansports) and on Facebook. Updates to FB fans have been sent. We’d initially set up a Flickr site, but found that sending an update to 872 FB fans at the same time was probably more efficient than to ask the forest to create a Flickr account and THEN share a photo.

    But there’s the rub: FB ‘fan photos’ cannot be organized, and we have three photo-submission initiatives (one involves camping photos for the Life department). Any ideas on this will help.

    My solution was to use the Preview entertainment magazine FB page for the camping photos and use the Freeman’s page to send an update for that and for the Sports photos. But I’m kind of in the dark about organization afterward.

    * Sports is also asking readers for ideas for a roundup of area coaches, but I’m finding out that anything that is not extremely narrow won’t generate much response. We might adjust our call for input on that one.

    * The Life Department is mapping the best camping spots in the Catskill Region in New York. My unhappy reporters will corroborate the information provided, because we want to do a Google map out of this. And they will write stories about the sites (accessibility, child friendliness, bear eating babies, etc). Think of it as a guide.

    * In the weeks leading to July 4, the Life department (me) will hold live-chats with our new featured bloggers, inviting readers to ask live questions (two chats so far, one reader-submitted question out of six readers). This will be retrofitted for print in a Q&A-type format.

    * I do periodic Pulse of the Hudson Valley blog and Twitter updates from people I follow in my blog. I’m reversing the process and inviting readers to send me their favorite tweets I might have missed from around the area.
    (here’s the link you’ll ignore, http://dailyfreeman.blogspot.com/2010/06/pulse-of-valley-your-edition.html)

    * I’m doing a special edition of my column with camping stories gone-wrong. (I have a FB page myself for the column and this – http://www.facebook.com/IvanLajaraPage)

    * Did I mention I’m crowdsourcing my hair? (http://dailyfreeman.blogspot.com/2010/06/hair-is-up-for-grabs.html)

    We’re also not sleeping.

  3. Among the things we are considering: A point/counterpoint conversation for sports with added commentary from FB or Twitter, and maybe a podcasted roundtable discussion; a reader-submitted photo page; getting people to send in video resumes for an unemployment story, getting a local historical guide involved with a July 4 story using a re-enactor on video to talk about local history.
    +1

  4. Crowdsourcing response started off slowly, but caught on and is going well. Haven’t had any major disappointments. One story even got responses that sparked a spinoff story about memories of a long-closed high school.

    We posted our story plans on our Ben Franklin online page with links to the reporters and put a big banner link to it on our website. We’ve also used my blog, Twitter and Facebook to repeatedly ask readers to contribute their thoughts, photos etc.

    We also repeatedly Facebooked and Tweeted links readers could use to respond on each story individually.

    In-paper promos asking for reader involvement with BFP sports stories and letters to the editor were also part of the mix.

    It’s easier to get a response by being as specific as possible on each information request and making it as easy as possible to contact the reporter.

    The other big thing is, we now just ask for the information we want from readers, without first going through a preamble about the Ben Franklin Project. We did the Ben Franklin Project explanations a few times up front. People may not “get” the Ben Franklin Project, but they do understand we want to hear about their high school experiences, personal heroes, questions they’d ask the mayor, or thoughts on a new local Wal-Mart for our July 4 special edition.

  5. The Register’s crowd-sourcing efforts have generally gone well, and we expect to have most stories — at least the first drafts — largely wrapped up by this Friday. The response has been steady, though not overwhelming. Our crowd-sourced Ben stories include:
    *whether people think the economy is bouncing back
    *examples of local government waste
    *what age is appropriate for a child to have a cell phone
    *are you addicted to Facebook and other social media?
    *examples of local, present-day patriots
    *is a free press still important to the country?
    *what books people are reading this summer
    *what is the one thing that epitomizes summer to people

    One story washed out: We invited the public to tell us about their favorite vacation spots for a travel feature, and got no responses. We may have been asking too much – details, photos, etc.

    We’ve put the questions out to readers in a variety of platforms – Facebook (the NHR page and in some cases reporters’ own pages), Twitter, and blurbs on the website, on the Ben blog and in the newspaper. We’ve had the most success with Facebook and with people e-mailing reporters based on the blurbs we’ve posted. While we’ve had success with Twitter as a crowd-sourcing tool in the past (for example, a Mother’s Day story on baby names), on these stories Twitter has been less effective for us.

    We’ve had the most response to the economy, Facebook, cell phone and summer stories. Response to the government waste story was surprisingly slow to start, although it has picked up and we are continuing to seek reader input.

    As we finish the first draft of the stories, we are putting them on the Ben blog and inviting people to check them out and offer more input.

  6. Here’s something from reporter Kaitlyn Yeager on a great resource:
    Survey Monkey (www.surveymonkey.com) is turning out to be a great tool for my crowdsourcing for Ben Franklin. I created a short survey
    (http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/K8CTKBK) to get feedback on what the issues are with parking and traffic in downtown Torrington, and I got 68 responses.

    We’ve had less luck using Facebook, as friend requests are approved one at a time and sometimes slowly.

    A good level of response has come from real down-to-earth tactics, like letters in mailboxes and business card distribution. It’s not using online tools, but we wanted to source the part of the crowd that is still not online.

  7. Pingback: Editors adapting and evolving their crowdsourcing approach « The Ben Franklin Project

  8. Pingback: Editors changing their crowdsourcing approach

  9. Floyd

    Why not provide some content?
    The national page is usually two stories.
    Hire a few writers already,and quit the non sense.

  10. Thanks for adding this thread. I hope folks use this to contribute many ideas that we can all use in the next three weeks.

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