The problem: Anyone can be a publisher. In my last post on Ethics, I discussed how many online sources are not even credible, and even if they have been some form of fact-checked, the information is not well-rounded and it got me thinking: there should be a site for bloggers that is actually accountable. So that users can trust the information they are reading and know it is valid. Most bloggers get their info from print sources, they rarely use primary sources.
As stated by Gary Kamia, “Observation is the building block of not just journalism, but of all human knowledge.” We NEED primary sources, and we need more then one person reporting on them. How else can we get a well-rounded, educated opinion? I am a very out-spoken person and I am not saying people shouldn’t share their beliefs, but opinions should be left for the opinion section, and news should be objective. Provide all sides of the story, and let the public make up there own minds. I’m not saying death to blogs, but lines must be drawn. The SPJ Code of Ethics should apply to any, and all, online journalism. Including blogs.
The Solution: A website for bloggers that is credible and accountable. Crowdsourcing will be used to review blog posts. Users can read posts and upvote or downvote them. A rating system will be used to determine the bias of the post. 1 being very liberal-biased, 10 being conservatively biased and 5 being neutral, or completely objective. Every post will be fact-checked and source-checked and then rated on accuracy and truthfulness.
The Look: The site would be designed much like Reddit. With the title on the top and the blogs in a simple list-format underneath. The posts with the highest ratings (or a 5 in the bias section representing objectivity) would be bumped to the top of the site. The farther down the page you go, the less accurate the posts. (So unaccountable or very-biased posts would be on the bottom if featured at all). There would be up and down arrows next to each post to upvote or downvote them. Also there would be a rating system of 1-10, for users to rate how biased (or hopefully not biased) the article is. There would also be tabs underneath the title for sub-headings and niche groups including sports, music, events, images, etc. There would also be a “local” tab users could add depending on what city they’re in.
Content providers: A user account must be created in order to post, but anyone can view, comment or rate posts, that is why it is so important for the posts to be thoroughly checked and rated. There would also be staff members who would monitor and regulate the site constantly. These staff members would also have final say in the ratings of the posts, or make decisions/changes if there were disputes over the content or accountability of an article. The site could be just local news for Albany or on a wider global scale.
Target Audience: Intellectuals and forward-thinkers of all ages. Also, up-and-coming journalists. This is not by any means supposed to be a site for girl fight videos and memes. It is for hard-news and relevant, intellectual ideas. The site would be very user-friendly so it is not only reserved for the tech-savvy, but for people with all levels of technical ability.
Accessibility: The site will be available to anyone who has the Internet. A user account would be made in order to post blogs, but creating an account will be free. I would like the entire use of the site to remain free, but depending on the success of the site, perhaps some sort of partial-pay wall would be created for niche blogs only.
Funding: Funding would come from advertisements. I think the site would be able to attract a large amount of advertisers because of the wide-range of subjects featured on the site. The site would attract many people with different interests, wanting to dicuss a variety of topics. Therefore, the site could feature a wide variety of ads that would appeal its versatile audience.
Privacy: The issue of privacy would be left up to the blogger themself. If they wanted to include their name, they could, if not, their post would just show their user name. However, if a user continuously posted inaccurate or irrelevant content, their posts would be removed and their account discontinued.
Social Media: Social media would be used all throughout the site. First off, the site would be promoted on Facebook and Twitter. A Facebook group or page would be created in order to create awareness about the site and gain friends. Notifications would be posted on your wall when you posted a blog or a comment. If you received a comment on one of your posts you would be notified through your Facebook and/or Twitter both online and on your mobile phone. I would also like to create an App for the site, that could be downloaded to your phone as well.
I think this site would be extremely successful. It is certainly an interesting time for Journalism. With Facebook, Twitter, iPhones, iPads, people are in a constant state of “streaming data.” They have access to information unlike ever before. Now more and more publications are moving to online mediums, and creating pay walls for users to view them. At the same time, anyone can be a publisher. Anyone can post anything and someone will read it. People are looking for a site like this. One that they can trust, but still have fun with and openly express their ideas. A site that is not based on a quick laugh from a 30 second clip of someone’s humiliation, but intellectual and interesting observations that you want to share with your fellow nerds. Isn’t that the point after all?