Gannett Blog: Tour de force crowdsourcing
Jim Hopkins, the former USA Today staffer who is the proprietor of the terrific Gannett Blog, urged his readers to report on the details of the layoffs at their papers. Soon, he began posting a comprehensive, rolling update of the carnage that, at this writing, is in its sixth instantiation.
The task would have been impossible for Jim to complete on his own – and probably well beyond the capability of even a small army of reporters, especially given that the company was not eager to share this sort of information with the media.
Jim was assisted, of course, by dozens of professional newsfolk who watched valued colleagues ushered out the door. In some cases, the contributors were the valued colleagues themsleves.
But quality crowdsourcing doesn’t have to be only about journalists writing about themselves.
Imagine what a newspaper could do if it put out a call for information from nurses about hospital lab errors, schoolteachers about dangerous classrooms, homeowners about property-tax increases, Little League coaches about ill-tended playing fields, or employees being laid off by a big factory.
Although most of Jim’s former colleagues were glad to have his blog around today as a valuable virtual watercooler, many of the comments were not so generous in October, when he asked readers to make modest voluntary contributions to help him raise $24,000 a year to cover expenses after his own buyout check ran out.
“Could you get a part-time job, that would pay you $24,000/year (e.g., a PT freelance editing/copy-editing gig at $35/hr for 15 hours/week and 48 weeks a year)?” asked one anonymous commenter. “That would still give you time to work on the blog.”
“For months you have had all the answers for Gannett problems,” said a second anonymous commenter. “Now the gravy train has ended as the Gannett ‘good-bye checks’ have ended...wow...your new digital ad plan does not cover expenses? Let’s beg for 5 bucks every few months? Where's the tin cup...maybe include a few pencils in it....”
I am glad Jim kept blogging despite the flak. I’ll bet some of the snarksters are glad today, too.