Crowdsourcing, Like Wildfire
The current wildfires and mass evacuations in Southern California have spawned dozens of citizen journalism efforts. It’s a classic case where non-professional “reporters” in various places can create more and more compelling content than a single media group can. And it’s a classic case where big-media ignorance is standing in the way of a transformed public experience.
Here are some highlights on these user-generated efforts, which are moving as fast as the fires themselves.
- Orange County Register gathers user photos and videos
- Google mashup of citizen weather stations
- 3,000 and counting wildfire images at Flickr (search “California Wildfire” and choose “most recent”)
- A running Twitter wildfire thread
- A whole bunch of UGC wildfire videos at YouTube (search “wildfire California” to get the best stuff”)
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: The CitJ/ProAm/UGC/whatever movement needs a single aggregator of the best UGC for a big news event so that people can have a single source to turn to–a kind of Citizen Journalism Big Story Surveillance Project ™.
This content could be curated or, perhaps, delivered via sly search algorithms.
But it won’t be done by Mainstream Media. Why? Too proud of their own content, too contemptuous of UGC quality, too unwilling to create pure curation positions, too tied to their efforts at monetizing their core audience’s UGC contributions instead of going out and finding the very best stuff no matter who solicited it, posted it or is trying to make money off of it.
Oddly enough, if any large medium that did create a disinterested but passionately curated, high-usability, real time aggregation of big-news UGC, it would really have something to monetize–and a powerful asset that could reposition itself in the new media landscape.
But I do believe that no matter who creates it, until there is a single, visible, branded aggregation of real-time and recent UGC, the possiblities of this new style of populist journalism will not be made clear to media users. Until it’s gathered and properly presented, this very good and important material will remain on the periphery of the public’s attention.
And speaking of crowdsourcing: Is anybody aware of a big UGC aggregation effort like this on the California fires? If so, leave a message here or drop me an e-mail.