Guide to Crowdsourcing

Onuoha, Mimi; Pinder, Jeanne; Schaffer, Jan

The term “crowdsourcing” has been around for a decade. Although Wired writer Jeff Howe coined it in 2006, the ways in which news organizations define and employ it today vary enormously.

This guide is organized around a specific journalism-related definition of crowdsourcing and provides a new typology designed to help practitioners and researchers understand the different ways crowdsourcing is being used both inside and outside newsrooms. This typology is explored via interviews and case studies.

The research shows that crowdsourcing is credited with helping to create amazing acts of journalism. It has transformed newsgathering by introducing unprecedented opportunities for attracting sources with new voices and information, allowed news organizations to unlock stories that otherwise might not have surfaced, and created opportunities for news organizations to experiment with the possibilities of engagement just for the fun of it.

Certainly, though, crowdsourcing can be high-touch and high-energy, and not all projects work the first time.

To be sure, crowdsourcing businesses are flourishing outside of journalism. But within the news industry, wider systemic adoption may depend on more than enthusiasm from experienced practitioners and accolades from sources thrilled by the outreach.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Tow Center for Digital Journalism
Tow Center for Digital Journalism, Columbia University
Tow Center for Digital Journalism Publications
Published Here
July 10, 2017