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Crowdsourcing Off the Bus with Huffington and Assignment Zero

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We last reported on Assignment Zero a week ago. Assignment Zero was NewAssignment's first pro-am journalistic endeavor, which has since closed. Moving on, OfftheBus, a collaboration between NewAssignment and Huffington Post, launched on July 18.

We last reported on Assignment Zero a week ago. Assignment Zero was NewAssignment's first pro-am journalistic endeavor, which has since closed. Moving on, OfftheBus, a collaboration between NewAssignment and Huffington Post, launched on July 18.

OfftheBus explores campaign journalism. The press release calls it “a network of campaign bloggers who have diverse views and distinct beats, and other volunteers for “distributed” reporting projects that would be hard for a traditional news organization to undertake.”

In essence, it will try to capture the presidential campaigns as they are “off the bus” from the perspective of the voters.

Marketed as “The Wisdom of Crowds Hits the Campaign Trail,” OfftheBus began recruiting citizen bloggers back in March. However, they have just released an FAQ which attempts to establish blogging standards for open platform campaign journalism. Think less rigor and discipline and more flexibility and candor. Regardless, their guidelines make good sense for citizen journalists as well as experienced bloggers and everyone in between. Questions cover topics about how to get a post on the front page to incorporating elements of media criticism to developing a “beat.”

Cultivating good journalism seems to be first and foremost for OfftheBus and they encourage citizen journalists to explore “opinions based on discovery” and “offer new information and original perspectives not found elsewhere.” They also seem to know how to refine the knowledge base of their contributors, allowing them to cover similar topics, which over time can make them more knowledgeable “than 90 percent of the press.” OfftheBus allows bloggers to have “a more consistent focus to what interests or obsesses them.”

OfftheBus and its founders seemed to have learned from Assignment Zero, which was hampered by “haphazard planning, technological glitches and a general sense of confusion among participants.”

As crowdsourcing efforts strike a balance between a reliance on crowd wisdom for journalistic advancement, and best practices implementation, successful blogs are sure to abound on and off the bus.

 
 
 
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