The original stories, articles, interviews and reviews that appear on the Journal start as either a submission to the ePluribus Media editors or as investigative tip.
ePluribus Media researchers, using publicly available information, and often working with a writer, pull together a story. Once a draft is ready, an editor is assigned who works with the main writer/or researcher to help shape the story and more importantly, determine if the story has merit.
This is an example of the potential of the web– 1.0, 2.0 or 3.0– starting to come to fruition. These ‘crowd sourced’ journals can’t replace mainstream journalism (although they may have to play the role that public radio and television once played) but they can help drive the agenda, as the clichÃ© goes. It’s a model to watch for a number of reasons.
The first is that, perahps learning from Wikipedia, they have a ‘vetted volunteer’ community of writers alongside a complex fact-checking process. It’s a “501(c)(4) tax-exempt, non-partisan organization,” which means that, while dependent on the system of charitable foundations, it can be relatively independent of commercial pressures. The development of a workable institutional model is central to the future of independent journalism.
Another reason that it is worthy of watching is its apparent desire to create permanent research tools, such as searchable timelines on particular events, that can be used in all sorts of settings, from research to the public schools, to policy making. (Here’s the Katrina timeline; they have a Rita timeline as well as one tracing the impact of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome among veterans of the current war in Iraq.)
Alongside the podcasts, articles, reviews, and interviews, they can help create the sort of permanent historical memory long promised by digital gurus. ePluribus Media was founded two years ago, out of what Arron Barlow has a called a desire, “to develop paradigms for journalism on the Web that is horizontal,” an “open source journalism.” You can read his account of the origins and aspirations of ePluribus Media here.