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Friday, February 2nd, 2007, 1:20 pm

Open Source Journalism — Cheaper and Better

I have just got a short new article over at newassignment.net. Dave’s improvements, made gradually as we corresponded, are muchly appreciated (as always!) . It is pleasant to work with a good editor, but I would still like to present the original text below.

REPEATEDLY we speak about the merits of an Open Source paradigm, which puts control in the hands of more people. This can either be a case of handing over control from the vendor to the customer or — more aptly in this context — from the author/journalist to the reader/critic.

At the end of last week, results from a highly-anticipated study on software were finally published. The study was backed by European Commission and it was authority- and vendor-independent. The results indicated that Europe would get significant competitive advantage owing to the economical superiority of Open Source software. This study, which involved rigorous trials and long-term observations, shows that there is a great economic incentive to use Open Source software in a company.

Let us use this as a lesson while we study how Open source practices can move beyond software onto things such as design or authoring, journalism included. Open Source journalism is beginning to prove its economic viability. It offers greater flexibility, which is obtained for low costs. Journalism in an Open, collaborative and unmoderated context is argued to raise maintainability costs, but experience suggests that a voluntarily effort of a group not only reduces production pace and costs, but it also improves quality.

The Daily NewsThere is still great resistance among the traditional world, which attempts to disrupt this emerging trend, by discrediting its practicality. Facts on the ground suggest otherwise. Only by studying alternative paradigms to the handling of information and associated tasks can one truly appreciate its value and establish confidence in it. And such is the case of Open Source intellect, whether its expressed in code or in natural language.

The study shows that costs are brought down with Open Source software. It also reports on quality going up, either because people involved in the project are more affordable (lower licensing expenses translate to an open door and increased staffing). In the same vein, it is easy to assume that costs will go down in Open Source journalism — journalism based on volunteers. Big media’s big response is about quality and quality is most easily attained by involving large groups, basing factual information on many opinions, formed by a greater pool of knowledge. Wisdom of the crowds not only raises accuracy, but it also benefits from a crowd, whose reward is involvement with real impact; the compensation for the efforts needn’t be monetary.

One Response to “Open Source Journalism — Cheaper and Better”

  1. David Says:

    And as always – it is a pleasure to work with you Roy. Thanks again!

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