*Update* Comments are now open and working.
A few weeks back I registered Newsroom.ie and yesterday I already got my first snailmail spam about it from some crowd trying to sell me hosting. So, why did I register newsroom.ie?
Someone that I’ve read and listened to more than anyone else of late has been Jeff Jarvis. His thoughts on the New Newsroom are to me quite inspiring. Citizen Journalism seems to irk a few people and people worry about the mass amateurisation of publishing or the mass amateurisation of nearly everything.
Certainly the O’Reilly Family fear blogs and amateurisation of a market they rule with an iron fist. While the likes of Citizen Journalism or Participatory Journalism might add a lot more noise it will add a lot more voices too and maybe the new generation of editors will be the ones to pick and choose from all these voices and knit together a professional story.
We may as a total group be amateurs but humans have been professional communicators since the start. This is one reason why we evolved so well.
So then, enough of the build up.
What I want newsroom.ie to be is somewhere which gathers stories from Irish people. Aggregates them, from the mundane to the explosive, from very local to national.
In order to do this, my current solution, which may radically change once I get feedback is a system of local contributors. Split newsroom.ie into areas and split those areas into smaller areas and so on. So we have frontpage stories which are fed by contributions from the provinces, the provinces are fed from county sections, counties from localities etc. etc. It reminds me of the Powers of Ten idea in a way.
So we have the local kid talking about who vandalised the playground and taking pics and we have the local concerned citizen talking about some local planning controversy. At the same time in the greater area there may be some big yet local story, for example lots of Cork people pissed off over water charges and all discussing it.
Now comes the hard part. How do these very local stories filter into the area list, filter into the county list and into the frontpage news? Could it be done by having local “editors” vote those posts into a higher up level, or would it be done by page votes?
Could there be a “Mark as interesting” button at the top and bottom of the story that could be pressed to give the story a vote?
I would hope that Newsroom.ie would be the place to give anyone and everyone a voice. Everyone if they wanted to, would become a reporter. There are many issues though about libel and whether newsroom.ie could get into shit for reproducing content that was damaging.
Another issue is whether Newsroom.ie would work like Planet of the Blogs and IrishBlogs and just aggregate content from blogs and categorize them using Tags as well as how users submitted their site. I would prefer this than a Slashdot style system where you post your story to the site.
So, am I a coder, can I do any of this? Nope. Not a clue of PHP, Ruby or anything else like that. I’ve discussed it with Mr. Breslin alright and I think it piqued his interest. Anyone else wish to comment on this? As usual, comments don’t work on this blog, so just link your thoughts from your own blog and I should pick it up.
Edit: I meant province not provence. D’oh.
Bernie says don’t forget to allow comments. Definitely comments would be there, forgot to include that above. I’m all for comments* and find that the comment sections in many other blogs inspire new blog entries on the original and reader sites. Comments are essential for a 2-way web.
* The irony of course is that comments here are busted. But to fix the comments means I have to set aside about 3 hours to work on this blog. I don’t have a block of that size for the next while.
The Dossing Times picks up on it too. Zepp (real name?) suggests that importing all blog posts from someone would be just as noisy and spammy as IrishBlogs and PlanetofTheBlogs. He rightly says that blogs are not news sources as such. I left a comment which I’ll reproduce here:
True, blogs are not news sources, but you can post news on your blog. Blogs are a communications medium. When you do have something newsworthy then possibly adding a tag like “newsroom” would alert newsroom.ie to add that into the mix.
I wouldn’t have newsroom.ie just sucking in any blog posts hoping news would be in them. It would definitely need filtering. Tags right now seem the best option. Maybe there’s a better one I haven’t thought of.
I like the idea of categories like IT and stuff too. Never had factored that in to the original idea.
Also, newsroom.ie wouldn’t be a competitor to RTE news or the like. I’d like to see it as a place to maybe grow journalists and give a voice to the little guy in a way. I think allowing the kid down the road to talk about the vandalised playground is just as important as someone getting another story heard.
Hopefully too with people reporting so much online it will become an historical record of the most local of things.
Update August 22nd 2005:
Boards.ie News/Media Forum Piaras made some worthy comments:
Would be very suss of something that just aggregates feeds because it’d end up as another Indymedia – some gems lost in a sea of waffle. I’d be worried about the lack of balance tbh.
The spamming thing is a worry alright. I can see that get sorted by having a flood control of a sort built in somewhere
The main reason I would advise Damien to implement Newsroom.ie in such a small pieces, loosely joined manner is because it would require very little work for any Irish blogger to contribute. Many of them already tag their blog posts and it would be simple to adapt to a group tagging consensus if necessary.
Yeah, tags and aggregating content look like the easiest way to go so far, but with possibly some kind of spam control put in place.