Can you imagine a mainstream newspaper soliciting readers to help sort through the emails of, say, Hillary Clinton? It simply wouldn’t happen. There’s a different set of journalistic rules though when it comes to Sarah Palin:
Over 24,000 e-mail messages to and from former Alaska governor Sarah Palin during her tenure as Alaska’s governor will be released Friday. That’s a lot of e-mail for us to review so we’re looking for some help from Fix readers to analyze, contextualize, and research those e-mails right alongside Post reporters over the days following the release.
We are limiting this to just 100 spots for people who will work collaboratively in small teams to surface the most important information from the e-mails. Participants can join from anywhere with a computer and an Internet connection.
When Sarah’s first book came out, the Associated Press assigned 11 “fact checkers” to comb through it, but at least they were their own employees. The AP should have just let their readers do it and saved some money. It would be doing nothing but inviting falsehoods and spin as well as offering the comments a large forum with which to reach a lot more readers than they normally would have, but that’s what the WaPo is doing.
Another point: In the age of muckraking bloggers, a mainstream media operation hardly has to invite scrutiny of information, whether it comes from the right or the left. What we’re really seeing here is a media dinosaur recognizing that it’s being scooped continually by the new media and demonstrating its desperation to keep up. But again, they’re being selective (read: biased) when it comes to how, who and when they feel the need to keep up.
Update: The New York Times is also soliciting citizen-journalists.
Wow. Just imagine if they had put this kind of effort into analyzing… I dunno… Obamacare?