That Rosen Post

NYU’s Jay Rosen came to pitch his new project to us two weeks ago. NewAssignment.Net, Rosen’s experiment in “networked journalism,” or whatever the title du jour is, just launched.

It is an exciting concept that some of my colleagues have done a good job of explaining. I will just say that it was encouraging to see Rosen so aware of the many opportunities and challenges that lay before him.

But rather than get into those issues in depth, this is an idea for one assignment idea that’s been kicking around in my head for a while.

Why not harness the power of the YouTube era to develop the story and understand the experience of Iraqi immigrants and exiles. The ultimate goal could be 5, 10, 20 video pieces from Iraqis of all stripes, telling their own story and their views on what’s happening and what should happen in their country.

That final piece could include the story of Iraqi Christians who left Iraq years ago and now mourn the plight of their fellow Christians in Mosul and Baghdad. It could include the story of one of the three Iraqi journalists now studying journalism in New York. It could also include the stories of the countless Iraqis who have fled the growing violence there for other Middle East countries. I could go on and on with examples.

How would this fit into NewAssignment.Net’s scheme? The early reporting, and even the eventual pieces, could come from so-called amateur reporters who know the Iraqi exiles and immigrants. Those am-reporters could submit 2-5 minute video segments to the NA editor who would then decide, with a certain amount of input from her readership, which stories could be fleshed out into full pieces.

I think that a networked approach is perfect for filling in this sort of wide-ranging story. It allows a reporter to focus on the best elements, the most compelling stories, but also, hopefully ensures that she doesn’t miss the most compelling stories. The am-reporter mediates what could be a very difficult, or non-existent, relationship between the editor.

Obviously, this idea would translate easily to any other immigrant group or to oral / video history projects.

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