We’re delighted to have launched our first crowd-sourcing project, tracking bicycle collisions in the city.
Next step is to go through and verify those we can so far. Once we’ve given it a bit more time – I have to sit on my hands and stop being so impatient – we’ll start to spin off stories about the clusters that we notice. So watch this space for that.
The reaction to the bike-collisions project has made us optimistic about reaching out to readers to get them involved in all stages of the storytelling and reporting process. (I had some concerns that we didn’t yet have the readership base to do this kind of project but thought it was worth a try.)
We’re a small team and at the moment, don’t get many pitches from freelance journalists; most of those that we do receive are for arts and culture. So how do we get more and better ideas for newsy features with a limited number of brains? That’s, of course, an eternal question for a publication.
On Monday, I had a Skype call with a new tech company called We Are Hearken, which thinks they have one possible solution.
They’ve got a whole platform which you can use to source stories from readers and then put the ideas out to vote, so that we know there’ll be interest in an issue before we put in the leg work. It seems like a great idea for us.
That said, it’s looking too costly for us at the moment – $5,000 for a year. So, we might try out the free trial and see how it works, and whether people take to it. And then we can decide whether we can mad-scramble the money for it from anywhere. Or, maybe we’ll try a home-spun version and graduate to Hearken when we can afford it.
If you have other ideas for how to get readers involved, and encourage them to come to us with questions that they’d like answers to, then feel free to put forward suggestions!