Citizen Journalists and the California 11th
Dan Gillmor outlines an exciting project he’s spearheading in California’s most competitive race this year, for the 11th Congressional District seat held by Republican Richard Pombo.
First: Working with citizens in the district, we hope to create an online repository of every scrap of information about the candidates, issues and campaign. This will include videos of their public appearances, as well as all advertising they and their supporters or opponents produce. Then we’ll post everything on the Web in an easy-to-use format.
Second: We will pick an element of this data collection — the advertising — and add value through further reporting and analysis. We will further create conversation spaces on our site so the district’s residents can talk about the issues and other matters.
Third, and most important: We will use what we learn to create a template for the 2008 election and beyond.
It’s an interesting idea and one that offers promise for the future of citizen journalism. I’m less optimistic about it becoming an exemplar for other races, though, given that so few seats are actually competitive because of extreme Gerrymandering and the ability of incumbents to buy their re-election through constituent service and pork barrel projects on our dame.