Jay Rosen’s new project: Beat blogging

I’ve been meaning to mention this before, but Jay Rosen, the brains behind NewAssignment.net and its various spinoffs — including OffTheBus, the citizen-journalism political reporting venture with Huffington Post — has a new project that he told me about when we met for a drink while he was in Toronto for the Online News Association conference (he told the conference about it too).

In a nutshell, Jay’s idea is this: take social-media tools such as blogs, wikis, social-bookmarking and so on, and use them to help “beat” reporters at newspapers improve their coverage of that beat, by allowing sources to contribute their knowledge in a variety of ways. As Jay describes it:

“Maybe a beat reporter could do a way better job if there was a “live” social network connected to the beat, made up of people who know the territory the beat covers, and want the reporting on that beat to be better.”

I think this is a great idea, and I hope Jay finds enough reporters (and newspapers) who want to participate. He says he has 7 or 8 of the 12 he is looking for already signed up. As I said to Jay when we met in Toronto, my only reservations are that some sources may not want it known that they are sources, and reporters may not be comfortable opening up about how they do what they do.

That said, I think it will be a fascinating experiment in Journalism 2.0, just as Assignment Zero (the joint research project between NewAssignment and Wired magazine) was.

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