The Guardian, Daily Telegraph and BBC: Lessons in Crowdsourcing

I began the week reflecting on the BBC’s initiative asking radio listeners to come up with pain-free ways the NHS could save money.

The week ends with an army of Guardian readers sorting and classifying 700,000+ MPs’ expenses documents.

Two examples of old media embracing crowdsourcing and it will be interesting to see how both fair.

From the outside, the Guardian feels inherently more switched on to the potential of outsourcing some of its journalism to the crowd.

As Paul Bradshaw (aka Online Journalism Blog) observes of the Guardian experiment:  

This isn’t ‘citizen journalism’: it’s micro-volunteering. And when you volunteer, you tend to engage.

The BBC’s offering, meanwhile, is far less interactive.

I suggested on Monday that the Beeb should show its workings, in other words curate and display the cost-cutting ideas it has received to date. So far nothing.

You only get the full benefit from the masses if they can feed off each other.

Over at the Guardian, meanwhile, you instinctively feel you are part of a social activity. And it’s not just the  progress bar that makes you feel this way.

All this begs the question, why didn’t the Daily Telegraph do something similar? After all it’s owned the story for six weeks.

And there in lies your answer. It has treated this whole affair as an old school scoop. It had something its rivals wanted – and to maximise impact it controlled the release of the information.

And you can’t argue with a strategy that allowed the paper to dictate the news agenda for 23 days in a row.

But now, given the redacted versions of these expense forms have been in circulation for 36 hours and more, it would make sense for the Daily Telegraph to follow the Guardian’s lead.

Sure, it’s making much of the release of unredacted Cabinet MPs’ expenses.

But it’s not quite the same thing as letting your readers get their hands dirty.

10 thoughts on “The Guardian, Daily Telegraph and BBC: Lessons in Crowdsourcing”

  1. Indeed – it’s the difference between 2-way interactivity (between publisher and reader) and 3-way interactivity (publisher to reader and reader to reader). I don’t think this is something even The Guardian have yet done with their crowdsourcing: it’s still all mediated through The Guardian – it would have been good to see ways in which users could share with each other aside from on comments on a liveblog.

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