Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Public Insight Network

I have been thinking about WUNC's on-air effort to recruit people for its "public insight network", I think they call it. My first reaction - upon hearing that WUNC would promise confidentiality - is that that will not work; WUNC is part of the State of North Carolina and there is no exception in the state open records law for "news" gathering.

But the more I thought about it, the more concerned I am about the notion of recruiting news sources. It's bad enough that news organizations are bombarded with promotion from many interests through public relations people and directly. To ask for those people to sign up - and then to be used - strikes me as a lot of effort diverted in the direction of those volunteers when the responsibility of a news professional is to stand above that and make choices of sources completely independently of who is standing outside the front door.

So from the standpoint of diverting resources that would be better used on better and more reporting and from the standpoint of adding one more challenge to the independence of professional reporting, I think the whole idea is a bad one.

Here is a "beta" option from Forbes. It strikes me as a much better approach.

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