Stanford Professional Publishing Course
Scott Rosenberg, Aug. 1, 2009
Ground we’ll cover:
I. Finding information
II. Assessing information
: by yourself — and using “the crowd”
Pierre Salinger Flight 800 story (1996)
[Scott Rosenberg Salon column]
Wikipedia Maurice Jarre hoax
NYT Cronkite obit/Alessandra Stanley piece — corrections
FINDING INFO YOURSELF
The old days: microfiche, card catalogs, coins for the copier
Today: your browser gets you much of what you need.
Google, wikipedia as starting points for direct communication (phone, email)
phrases as unique document markers: 5-6 words in quotes
advanced search operators
know how to use the google cache
The Internet Archive
Can be slow, sometimes gives error messages, try again!
Follow links within the archive to find older/more elusive pages
If you can’t find something, try alternate domains
ASSESSING INFO YOURSELF
hunches (for soldiers)
New York Times feature
Know how to read a URL
Howard Rheingold: online crap detection 101
Key question: Who is the author?
use whois on domain (easywhois.com)
search on name to see what others say (and who are they? — it’s recursive!)
Are there any — email, contact, comments?
What’s in comments — challenges to info? responses?
how to assess a tweet
check out the account, posts, content, background info
USING THE CROWD
Open source software development tradition
“Given enough eyesballs, all bugs are shallow” (The Cathedral and the Bazaar, Eric Raymond)
Publication + interest = broad review
how do you chunk/divide the tasks effectively?
Is there need for coordination and how do you manage it?
How important is quality control, and how do you do it?
Examples: Open call
Works best when there’s a community of trust/shared goals
TPM / document dumps re Atty Gen firing scandal: New York Sun piece
In UK, newspaper readers dug into MP expense accounts data:
Guardian opens up half-million documents to readers
SFGate seeks contributions to cover Michelle Obama visit
— maybe haven’t cultivated crowd well (see comments)
AP: “readers will direct our coverage” of Sotomayor hearings
Nieman Lab piece
Twitter in Iran
#iranelection — hashtag — open flow of info curated by people like NYT Ledeblog or Andrew Sullivan or Nico Pitney at Huffington Post
Marc Ambinder’s post: “Follow the Developments in Iran Like a CIA analyst”
Quick and dirty crowdsourcing (Twitter, blog comments):
Simple path to getting better “man on street” material.
BUT still skewed, not by friends/neighbors of newsroom folks but by who’s in your online network. Still, wider.
Doug MacMillan on Twitter:
Looking for big national advertisers that have an opinion to express on Microsoft-Yahoo deal. (email address)
Dan Gillmor: My readers know more than I do.
scottr [at] wordyard.com
@scottros on Twitter