What’s crowdsourcing anyway?

I was trying to explain crowdsourcing to someone the other day and I explained it like this.

Let’s say I have a question, like maybe my son wants an e-reader and I’m not sure which one to buy. I’m not sure if any of my friends have e-readers so rather than just ask them, I’m going to ask a lot of people. The easiest and quickest way for me to get the feedback I want is to post the question on my social networking sites. So I post the question to my Facebook page, I tweet the question and I put it on my blog. I throw a wide net hoping to catch someone who has the information I need. Of course, I’ll verify everything before I make an informed buying decision.

In journalism, we use crowdsourcing to find sources and information more quickly. When I first started out in this business decades ago, I used a rotary phone to call sources and an electric typewriter to write my stories. Today, I use a multitude of platforms to do my job. And I rely on you, the public, to help me by providing information or in some cases actual content.

I’d like to think that you are more than just readers, that we are friends. We live in nearby neighborhoods, our children play in the same sports leagues and attend area schools and churches. Yes, we might be virtual friends, but we are physical neighbors in the broader sense. We have the same cares and concerns, share similar joys and sorrows.

So whether I’m asking you a question (Should parents limit kids TV time?) or seeking information (Please send photos of your flooded basement), I’m involving you in the reporting of the story.
Thank you for contributing in all of the ways you do – from sharing photos to sharing content. I want you to know that the York Daily Record/Sunday News works hard to tell good stories, and we value your input to make them the best they can be.
Consider this an open thread to share any story ideas you might have. I’m crowdsourcing here, asking you for your input because I care about what you think and what’s important to you.

About Buffy Andrews

Assistant Managing Editor of Features and Niche Publications for the York Daily Record/Sunday News. Also, Social Media Coordinator.
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