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MSNBC's citizen journalists

<![CDATA[Interesting experiment in “democratic journalism” at MSNBC led by Democratic strategist Joe Trippi. I think the word choice in the headline is odd, but applaud the idea.
MSNBC did this during the election, when more than 4,000 people filed stories. The pieces MSNBC displays are edited—or else they were bizarrely consistent in the word count they choose to submit—and collected on a single page, which is different than the stories by MSNBC staff, which have their stories posted on individual pages and at considerable length. This reflects some value judgments about which source of words is most important or perceptive, but I am sure it can change.
At, we get a variety of story types and occasionally the coverage devolves into simple blog postings rather than attempts to report or editorialize at length based on facts and solid sourcing, but the decision was that if the writers signed on to the basic purpose of the site we can afford the space granted to anyone. It would be great, though, if we could work with some of these writers at length to help them polish their stories, dig deeper and basically help them improve their reporting, because there is already so much energy and insight there. That effort might make shorter stories, but not for consistency. Rather, we’d help people cut stories down to the absolute essence. This may result in the telegraphic style of the old TIME magazine, but it could also be the leisurely chats we read by Dave Barry.
An editorial investment in this blog genre/format will help writers become more proficient in their voice, not reduce them to quick standardized bites. The point with this whole reader-directed medium is that people will spend as much time as they want with an author; editors can help grow the dialogue. We can’t insult our citizen journalists by making them into sound bites.]]>