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What If We Open Sourced Journalism?

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We have a problem with the status quo in journalism today. Trust is eroding by the day it seems, and efforts to reform aren’t coming from the people causing the problems. It is up to us to be the change we want to see.

Could we Open Source the entirety of journalism? Would it be a way to bring integrity and all the good things we need journalism to be to the forefront of how we get information? Can we create a culture of independent journalists that are too fluid for any government or conglomerate to destroy or even impede?

This is a brief overview and introduction into an exploration of how we could truly become “citizen journalists” once and for all. We have the tools. Lets put them to good use.

Journalism should be an inclusive and transparent process.

To the average person, journalism is a mysterious dark art. It is a lofty goal that few seem to find attainable. But, is that true?

As with anything in life, the more we understand it, the more likely we will be to make informed decisions.

If we understood how the process of journalism works, we would be far less likely to be as polarized as we are today because we would be more likely to understand that there aren’t necessarily “sides” of a story. There is a story. That story has facts and speculation.

Knowledge about how facts and speculation are arrived at would direct us to take a step back and look at things a lot more critically. It could change our entire collective psychology and therefore our entire culture – and for the better.

Education, building skills, and credentialing.

It is very important to get the facts straight, but this isn’t complicated surgery.

Look at the buffoonery that passes as journalistic integrity today. These people are supposedly well educated and trained, but have you ever known a fact about a story that they haven’t gotten wrong? Seriously, it’s a big problem.

It can’t be difficult to out-compete that, but it is the independent journalist or the “citizen” journalist that gets cast aside with skepticism. With the right education and the tools we already have in our pockets, we could overcome this problem which is quite literally ripping our society apart.


We know we can learn pretty much anything on the Internet. Why should journalism be any different?

The argument I continue to hear when attempting to have conversations about Internet learning is “holes”. I agree that a non-standard education is likely to contain knowledge gaps. Why not just have a curriculum or variety of them available that have been designed by field experts. These curriculums could be laid out in a variety of ways also. Why not put them on GitHub?

Building skills.

The best way to learn is by doing, but when we are just getting started in a field, we need guidance – apprenticeship or mentorship.

A motivated person will always find a way to continually improve on knowledge and skills but a mentor or group of mentors is still key. The problem with mentorship is often incentive. Why have a new person that slows you down around when you are just trying to get your job done? In many situations, an apprentice will stick around just long enough to gain some confidence and then go off in search of a more lucrative position right when they are beginning to pay for themselves.

Its seems to me that with blockchain solutions like Steem, we might finally have a more sustainable way to incentivize mentors.


As a farrier, the way I gained credentials (reputation) was to work with a reputable farrier. As I was seen working and succeeding with him, trust gained and eventually I was trusted similarly to him. This can work with journalism as well as it can with a myriad of other professions.

Of course, independent companies or communities could use their reputation to underwrite or credential a person. Its really not such a difficult concept.


The internet is chock full of useful collaboration tools, but here we need secured verification and data transparency. The general public should have access to the majority of data pertaining to a story. This allows for an increased level of scrutiny and oversight.

Fact checking

Fact checking is a tedious job that sometimes takes a lot of effort. This particular aspect requires as much skill and reputation as any other aspect of journalism.

Blockchain technology is great for this process. It can all be open and transparent and validated with reputable accounts. This will allow cross-checking and even rewarding the activities.


You know, if I want to bring up the current main-stream media again and their ethics… Well, it wouldn’t be hard to out-compete that.

Looking at community projects, especially ones with open and transparent culture, good ethical behavior is common. In regards to journalistic ethics, what are we looking for? Honesty, accuracy, and reliability?

No one doesn’t have an agenda and even if they do, so long as the agenda is clear, whats wrong with that? This is why we want variety and choices.


It all comes down to solid performance and reputation at this point. In today’s environment of crowd-sourcing and blockchain solutions like Steem and some of the micro-payment solutions we now have, sustainability means something different than it used to.

With the tools we have available now, we can now be more flexible and more profitable.

Open Source Journalism Series.

This is an ongoing and regularly updated series exploring as deeply as possible the promises of open source journalism. As a picture unfolds as to how this paradigm might work, I hope to start seeing a structure begin to develop where realizing the dream of a decentralized, open and accountable environment arises where people can learn the skills of a journalist, gain experience and reputation as well as funding to accomplish a sustainable lifestyle.

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