Should ZDNet use an open source process?

How much better would you be served if we in the media spent less time filtering and more time linking? Would rumors rule and lies spread faster?

The open source process has come to journalism.

From stories like Rathergate to the latest on Joe Lieberman (an ongoing process), loosely-affiliated groups of people, often with political agendas, have joined forces to break important stories, often over the objection of proprietary media companies.

We've had something like that process on this beat for some time. It's called Slashdot. The phrase “I've been Slashdotted” has entered the industry lexicon to mean that something on your site was picked up there and suddenly your traffic has spiked like Lieberman's on Election Eve.

Here at ZDNet, of course, we don't go in for that kind of thing. We are, in the parlance of open source, a proprietary outfit. Paid staff gets the stories (sometimes with help from its friends in PR – sometimes despite it) and paid editors determine what you read. There are now blogs, like this one, where writers hit publish without going through editors, but we're still supervised, and I (for one) do try to avoid breaking stories (for fear of being wrong without the net of an editor to catch mistakes).

The question is, does this need to change? How much better would you be served if we in the media spent less time filtering and more time linking? Would rumors rule and lies spread faster?

Judging by what I've seen in the political blogosphere, the reviews on that question are mixed. But what about in computing, where politics should enter into things less? Do you think our news would read better or worse if we used more of an open source process? And what about our credibility?

These are the questions our editors wonder about every day, and here I am asking you about them. Has the open source process already begun?



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