I said recently that I was putting together a prospectus on a university research project. I am going to submit the project, through my blog (mainly so I don’t have to manually cite each reference) to the University of Colorado’s School of Journalism (i.e. the below post constitutes my draft – open to comment).
I debated internally whether or not to name the school publicly and submit online first, and decided that I want this to be as open as possible.
This is only a prospectus.
It is not meant to suggest – at all – that CU has signed up for this or committed anything. At this point it is just the musings of a lone PR person who has seen enough of the technology to know this is possible and simple seen enough of ‘mass media.’ As follows:
A joint 'open source' research project led by students and faculty. Open Source in this case meant that the project is open to contributions and comment from anyone (including comment on any business plan, ethical standard, technology choice, etc.,) but directed by the staff and students of the University of Colorado at Boulder.
Drawing from the disciplines of journalism, computer science, business, law, and other applicable fields, the purpose of this project is a more transparent media universe.
Each discipline has a distinct and interrelated role in this project outlined as follows:
JOURNALISM: Within the contextually evolving realms of media and journalism, the goal is to broadly define and non-bindingly apply a journalists’ code of ethics to all forms of news and opinion journalism. The point is to enable nothing that impinges the First Amendment in any way, rather providing content consumers with better tools for judging the credibility of content. One credibility criterion may be level of disclosure. Another may be the publisher’s willingness to open their content to public comment and reply within the context of the story (i.e. in the publisher’s blog.) Content deemed inappropriate by the publisher could be retained for public view in a separate area – marked as possibly inappropriate to their audience (let the audience decide what is appropriate for them.)
COMPUTER SCIENCE: Taking the requirements as defined by journalism’s input, the role of computer science in this exercise is to build the tools that enable this community. Using a combination of open source and commercial code a social network can be created that incorporates RSS feeds, Wikis, feedback mechanisms, presence and identity management, client-side tools, and countless more technology is central to the project’s success. The approach at its core will be an open system that can plug into the widest array of publishing, contact management, and other tools.
BUSINESS: Find the niche where this project can survive as a self-sustaining community that compensates (even nominally) its community contributors (be they content publishers or their participating audience.) The business-side of the organization must be transparent, clearly delineating where the money flows in and out, and how that money could influence a publisher.
LEGAL: Aside from advising on intellectual property, ensuring that at worse, the project poses no threat to a broadly defined First Amendment and at best enhances every natural person’s First Amendment privileges.