Q&A in Journalism

Having tooted our own horn in the last post, I thought should mention a couple of other interesting experiments in journalistic Q&A. Here are two interesting ones:

ReportingOn

ReportingOn helps journalists of all stripes find peers with experience dealing with a particular topic, story, or source. So, it’s a Q&A site by and for journalists. If you need help with a story then you can go ask other journalists. For example. here a question from the site: I am writing an article on “Gang initiation week” does it actually exist? (apparently its on the 21st) I would like some info on what gangs do it, what they usually do, etc.“. It has no answers yet.

ReportingOn still needs to attract a big enough audience to get their questions answered in a timely fashion and by the right people, but the concept is good and Ryan Sholin (founder of this site, works at Publish2 and highly experienced) will often answer questions which is great.

ExplainThis.org

ExplainThis is designed to get community questions and have them answered by journalists. Their criteria for questions is that they should be questions that can’t be answered by Google or Wikipedia or by asking someone you know. These should be tough questions that require the kind of skills that journalists have – research, original sources, distilling complex issues, etc.

It’s in its very early stages but eventually their (founded by Jay Rosen) idea is for this to be a source for journalists to discover the things people really want to know (by ranking etc) and then do the original journalism necessary to answer them. At the moment it is a work in progress (which they are very up-front about) and has all kinds of Q&A which doesn’t necessarily fit their final model.

The idea that journalists will have a more concrete sense of what people want to know, rather than trying to guess at it, is a really good idea. I think it would fit best inside an existing media company and they have stated that they might implement it that way.

Experiments

It’s great to see people going beyond opining and whining about the state of journalism and its dismal/hopeful future and really trying out new things. It’s not surprising that these experiments are coming from Ryan Sholin and Jay Rosen – they are two of the bright lights in what often seems like a smoggy sky.

If you know of other ones, please let me know.

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