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    Some Goals and An Idea

    by Dan Schultz
    October 22, 2007

    Jay Rosen beat me to the punch but I’m still going to jot down seven goals that I think the perfect news system would address. I used this list as a foundation when thinking about how to utilize digital media and it is what I feel any type of aggregation system should include. Afterwards you’ll find a quick summary of the idea that got me into this big mess in the first place.

    The perfect news system would…
    • Maintain credibility in all articles and uphold the values of journalism.

    • Empower information consumers to find and view all news that interests and concerns them.

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    • Let individuals publish content they believe is essential for their physical, intellectual, or global communities.

    • Create a network that connects people with common interests and concerns in a way that directly facilitates the development those communities.

    • Communicate at a level of synthesis that allows for easy dissemination of information without loss or distortion.

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    • Eliminate the rift between mainstream News Media and quality weblogs.

    • Establish and distinguish categories of information as news, opinion, and/or infotainment/entertainment.

    The idea that I proposed to the Knight Foundation
    addresses these issues by incorporating “Geotagging, a robust user contribution and peer analysis system, and powerful filtering capabilities.” Geotagging would allow authors to directly associate news with physical locations; consumers could then define regions of interest on the globe.

    Content could be provided by anyone using the system. This would grant a voice to typically underrepresented factions of the News Media landscape, particularly those in underserved communities. Peer analysis hybridized with wiki-style moderation would ensure that all content is credible and appropriately categorized.

    The system would allow community members, primary sources, professional journalists, and independent journalists to publish news with credibility and completeness through a globally accessible system. In the end this would give both physical and non physical communities the ability to effectively communicate information on specific issues, as members of these communities will be able to publish the news that matters most to them. Consumers would have the power to shape their own informational agenda by specifying locations, topics, and defined regions of interest.

    Those last paragraphs pretty much came straight out of my proposal to the News Challenge and I’ll be explaining them in much more detail over the next few months. In the mean time, what other goals can you come up with?

    Tagged: aggregation blogging consumer contribution geotagging news user agenda
    • Daniel freedman

      Tell me more about how the peer analysis system might work. (Feel free to as geeky as you like!) How would your system differ from the rating system at slashdot or the filtering system at Daily Kos?

      Do professional journalists get extra weighting in your system? Or would they have to earn bonus karma points like everyone else? If so, there could be resistance.

    • Dan Schultz

      Hi Dan, thanks for the question (and the point about staying on the good side of professionals – resistance is no good!)

      The peer analysis system that I had in mind is most closely related to the one used by newgrounds.com, a flash animation repository that is *entirely* made up of user contributed content. Basically, new article or post would undergo something of a purgatory phase; it would be displayed in a section of the site that has been identified as containing new and “un-reviewed” content.

      In here, users would read over and rate the articles that are in their scope (i.e. tied to a nearby physical location or related to a topic of interest) knowing full well that they might be bogus. In order to rise up out of purgatory an article would need good enough ratings, if it can’t get them, it would be removed from the site entirely. There is a lot more to talk about and I’ll be dedicating a whole post about this soon, so hopefully that gives a good temporary answer.

      As far as the professional journalist question, let me stew on that for a little while…

    • Daniel Freedman

      A friend is a computer security guy. He tells me that in his world, your access and privileges depend on:
      * who you are
      * what you know
      * what you have
      Food for thought….

      Here’s more. Wikipedia prohibits both original reporting and original research. It also bans use of self-published sources. Editors must rely on published and verifiable information from reliable sources. Wikipeda considers mainstream newspapers reliable. But self-published websites are NOT considered reliable and may not be cited. So company websites may NOT be used as a source, but a newspaper article that quotes from the very same website MAY be used as a source. The logic is that newspaper have some level of editing or fact-checking — but anyone can put up a website and make any claim.

      Wikipedia considers peer-reviewed scientific journals the gold standard of reliability. And you are proposing a peer analysis system. If you could prove your system’s reliability and persuade Wikipedia to accept citations of its highly rated articles…..well, the implications are staggering.

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