Conservatives sneer at crowdsourcing, again

This country’s right wing is afraid of the people.

Evidence: In June, the New York Times and the Washington Post engaged the people in scouring the thousands upon thousands of e-mails from Sarah Palin’s time as Alaska governor. Conservatives blasted the effort.

Now, the Washington Post’s Aaron Blake is asking the people for tips on Newt Gingrich:

Hey Tweeps: Looking for outlandish/incorrect predictions and quotes from Newt Gingrich’s past. Any ideas for me?

Conservatives are blasting the effort. They have a little something to latch onto; Blake appears to be hunting only for negative stuff about Gingrich. “Looking for interesting quotes and anecdotes from Gingrich’s long history in public service” would’ve fetched exactly the response he was looking for, without inciting a backlash. Yet whatever, it’s near primary time. If this were a year in which Democratic candidates were vying for the nomination, Blake and his cohorts would be looking for the same material on the latest Dem frontrunner.

A few additional points here:

1) It’s the end product that matters. If the story or stories that Blake produces on the basis of his crowdsourcing tweet are biased, slanted and bankrupt, then that’s something to complain about. This process stuff? A good media-bias sleuth would scoff at it.

2) Crowdsourcing is transparent. Go ahead and impugn the efforts of news organizations to crowdsource reporting on public figures. But concede: This is a transparent and accountable way for the media to operate. The hysterical moment in the Blake crowdsourcing fuss came when Newsbusters wrote this: “On Monday, NewsBusters broke a story about Washington Post blogger Aaron Blake using Twitter to dig up dirt on Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich.” Given that he used Twitter, I’d have to say that Aaron Blake broke this particular story, NewsBusters.

3) Partisanship hamstrings crowdsourcing. Hyphens assist in the abridgement of a certain strain in the response to Blake’s tweet: Go-back-to-J-school-you-integrity-challenged-left-wing-biased-faux-journo-monkey.

I hereby sentence conservative media watchers to a 90-hour panel discussion on crowdsourcing sponsored by the Online News Association.

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.

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