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I’m glad Jay Rosen acknowledges that newassignment.net is not going to save journalism. Hearing his doubts about the project was actually refreshing. I can’t tell if it is a good idea or not, and apparently Rosen can’t either.
Then again I don’t think that newassignment.net is anything new. Social networking has existed on the Web since the days when Prodigy and AOL were your only options for net access and chat rooms were all the rage. Why is newassignment anything but a glorified chat room? Just because you call a group of soccer moms civic journlalists doesn’t make them qualified to report. Rosen said that the only way this project will succeed is under the guidance of a young, talented chat room moderator, err, I mean, editor. I agree with Amy that you can’t trust people to be honest reporters even when they’re trained. Leave it to the copy editor to point out its obvious flaw as a fact checking nightmare, way to go Amy. Joe also has a good point that citizens don’t have much to offer beyond their own interests. And I, like Joe, want to get paid for my work. I mean, what’s the point of going to J-school if I’m going to end up bagging groceries by day and saving journalism in my free time?
I’m not poo pooing the whole idea. But I think we need to call a lemon a lemon. Sure newassignment might break some interesting news here and there, but big deal. My parents won’t know about it unless it goes in the Chicago Tribune or ends up on CNN, and my folks are usually my gauge for the average American. Rosen doesn’t seem to think that would be too bad. He said it would be great if big papers picked up stories from his site; that means it’s working. Well it might work, but at best this project is just another tool for a professional journalist to use to report on the public consciousness.
Rosen may be overly optimistic about revotlutionizing journalism with this tool. If anything, it might give it a little nudge in the right direction.
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