Peer-Producing The News

Jim Harper headlines his remarks on this story about Gannett trying some new tricks with its newpapers, "Gannett to Use Peer Production." "Peer Production," of course, is the jargon term for how they make open source software. It strikes me as worth noting that perfectly traditional journalism always has involved a very large peer production element. Only a tiny amount of journalism, after all, consists of journalists just writing down their first-hand observations of events. The other elements all come from talking to other people to gain their insights or perspective, from recycling factual information obtained from other people's previously published journalism, from academic and think tank research, etc.

And of all that subsidiary information only a tiny proportion is actually stuff the journalist pays for. Indeed, in America reputable journalists are ethically prohibited from paying their sources for their stories. Instead, you rely on the fact that a wide range of motives exists for people to assist journalists in their professional endeavors without being paid for their help.