Interesting article from the Christian Science Monitor on the concept of journalism “crowdsourcing”:

Mayhill Fowler wrote a significant Web-only political story this week that took the temperature of the Democratic electorate. More remarkable than her conclusion – that Democrats are more undecided and less Iraq-focused than polls suggest – is the whopping 17 reporters in nine states who filed on-the-ground accounts to contribute to it.

The cornucopia of contributors, surpassing what most news outlets could ever afford, cost virtually nothing. That’s because the reporters are volunteers, including Ms. Fowler, a Californian, who at age 60 has embraced beat reporting on Barack Obama.

“I looked through all the information that people sent in and I came up with what I thought were the significant things we discovered in these 14 cities on Saturday,” she says. Her story was published online by Off the Bus, a project boasting 1,500 citizen journalists and affiliation with The Huffington Post, a liberal website.

“Until [this] post, there’s nothing really on the Obama campaign that I think we’ve brought that the mainstream media can’t. It’s this kind of joint effort that really is the thing,” she adds.
Collaborative citizen-reporting projects like this one are sprouting across the political landscape of Election 2008. Thousands of volunteers are adding muscle to efforts by professional reporters and campaign staff to leave no stone unturned – and no skeletons in the closet. But to drive volunteer interest, many of these “crowdsourcing” efforts draw more energy from partisan fervor than traditional journalism’s impartiality, say experts.

Read the rest.