This post went up on the Storyful blog today but I want it to be shared as widely as possible.
I just tweeted about how I’d forgotten how difficult it is to make collaborative journalism projects work. It’s an emotional roller coaster. One minute you’ve sent out the tenth email of the day and received no replies, the next minute you speak to a student journalist on the phone who is so excited about what could be possible. It takes such hard work to sustain these projects. You can see why it’s easier to stay clear, but the rewards I’m hoping will be worth it.
Like the tubestrike project from September 2010, hopefully this will work in the end and I can write a blog post that will get as many hits as this one, explaining the lessons learned. People seem to love hearing about the difficult bits!
You may have seen an increasing number of tweets, blog posts and even perhaps received an email about our plan to aggregate content from students during the campaign season.
Up until now, it’s been a vague idea, but now we can unveil our plan for the first truly comprehensive, collaborative journalism portal for the US election, #ElectionEyes. It will start with the Republican convention starting on 27th August, and will run for the rest of the election.
The project will be truly representative. We want content from as many neighbourhoods as possible, not just the battleground states. Traditional coverage has a narrow focus, in terms of topics as well as geographic location. Of course everyone will be looking out for a candidate gaffe caught by a camera phone, but with #electioneyes, we’re just as interested in a video of the Saturday morning rallying call of one election agent in one small downtown office.
We’ve talked to journalism professors across the US and all have talked about their plans to work with their students to cover the election from their local perspectives. Students will be spending the next three months blogging, taking videos and photos, creating audio slideshows, curating with Storify, and live-tweeting the campaign as they see it.
But rather than having to encourage individuals to upload content to a specific site, we will be using a website that will automatically display content being shared on the hashtag #electioneyes. This means the project requires no extra work for anyone. I repeat, this project requires no extra work for anyone! The technology will do the hard work for us.
This was happening in 2008 but the technology didn’t exist to connect everyone so easily. Huffington Post’s #offthebus was an incredible example of what can happen when citizen journalism is taken seriously, and some of the contributors to that project unearthed some of the standout moments of the campaign. In 2012, #offthebus is happening again and we’ll be working with its team to feature the best content on their site.
This project will provide a comprehensive and rich body of reporting and we know it will focus on the issues that matter to real Americans, not just the ones that the candidates want to talk about. We also know it will focus on policies not just the horse race.
Storyful journalists will be monitoring the #electioneyes site every minute of every day so we can feature the most interesting content on the Google Politics and Elections page, and theYouTube Politics page, as well as feeding it to our client news organisations.
From August 27 we’ll also be hosting weekly public Google Hangouts to discuss different techniques for capturing and sharing content, so anyone can learn the tricks of mobile reporting, building twitter lists to monitor conversations, the challenges of live-blogging etc.
For any journalism school that signs up, you’ll get free access to the same Storyful US Politics stream that professional news clients receive, for the whole of the election campaign. We’ll also be creating training videos with tops tips and tricks for getting your classes ready to cover the election using mobile and digital technology. These will be available for free for journalism schools that sign up.
So spread the word. Let’s see what we can achieve.
If you want your take on the election featured on our site, we’d love to add you to our contact database here.
Add #electioneyes to your tweets, and let’s see what’s possible.