Crowdsourcing: eclecticism

In this week’s reading “WHEN THE MEDIA MEET CROWDS OF WISDON—How journalists are tapping into audience expertise and manpower for the processes of newsgathering” by Karthika Muthukumaraswamy, I found the “News-Press utilities rates” case very interesting. I think the News-Press is very brilliant to use this innovative solution. It’s not surprising that residents of the Cape Coral county of Florida showed so much enthusiasm and initiative for participating in the paper’s investigation into the increasing costs of local public utilities, because that’s the issue related to personal interests, nobody wants to pay more for no reason. The residents utilized their abilities and skills and make the investigation into a team work to figure the whole thing out, and then they got a good outcome. We can see the power of crowdsourcing from the case, and it didn’t cost the News-Press much for the process. What’s more, “the News-Press launched a more structured project, called Team Watchdog.” It gave citizens a way to be “in the role the media plays in keeping government leaders accountable”, said a Team Watchdog group member.  Like Muthukumaraswamy’s article mentioned, citizens “brought to the newsroom  in terms of  expertise and manpower”,  and the crowdsourced journalism’s becoming more and more general, as in this article.

I think “Wisdom of Crowds in General-interest Reporting by Recruiting Generalists and Experts” is a suitable title for the case. Because firstly, “the increasing costs of local public utilities” is related to every resident’s interest, so it’s “General-interest”. Secondly, the News-Press invited local people to join investigation, and the “Generalists” are those “made trips to City Hall to question public officials, and obtained internal city memos to help uncover the truth behind the increased prices.” “Experts” are those with specific areas of expertise, engineers, lawyers, and accountants, who can interpret some certain documents.

In my opinion, the News-Press case is a good example of crowdsourcing. Like Jeff Howe defined “crowdsourcing is the act of outsourcing tasks, traditionally performed by an employee or contractor, to an undefined, large group of people or community (a crowd), through an open call.  Although News-Press’s crowdsourcing is different  from the  in the article “Africa’s Gift to Silicon Valley: How to Track a Crisis” device using, “undefined, large group of people or community” did contribute a lot.  As Muthukumaraswamy stated,“one of the biggest advantages of crowdsourcing, of course, is to use expert help in areas where journalists traditionally lack training.”  If the citizens didn’t step in the investigation, only reporters or journalists probably wouldn’t be able to find out the reason of increased prices, for it’s hard to understand blueprints and balance sheets for people without certain knowledge.


3 responses to this post.

  1. You remind me of the comparison between crowdsourcing and outsourcing. In class there was a lot of concern about allowing people who didn’t go to journalism school perform the functions of journalists. This is similar to the American workers who complain of being outsourced–out of a job because it is cheaper for American companies to outsource their labor needs. The result is less quality in some ways (i.e., the language barrier that often comes when native English speakers call foreign based customer service numbers and both parties struggle to communicate).


  2. You did not do this:

    “(1) Provide three additional links for your case and summarize the value of each one. That is, write one or two sentences (for each link) that explain what that linked material provided that was useful to you. This does not mean you only looked at three links, but you will post the three that were most helpful to you.”


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