Ready for open source journalism?

He who has the gold makes the rules.

Media critic Jay Rosen says he has $10,000 from Craig Newmark of Craigslist to launch what he calls true open source journalism.

On his own blog, called PressThink, Rosen yesterday explained the concept.

He has formed a non-profit called Newassignment.Net. The site will offer assignments that it will publish first, and seek donors to pay the bills.

A lot of the details are up in the air.

My hope is that open source methods can work when sensibly adapted. I think we’re a long way from knowing how that is done, or if it can be done. New Assignment is an attempt to find out. Parts of this puzzle are scattered all about: in the news business, blogger empires, on the political Web in several places, on the air— and indeed around the world. My scheme isn’t advanced enough yet to go live. It’s in the development stage, quite unfinished.

Rosen is an idealist. But many news organizations are built based on motives other than profit. Political influence is one. A religious conviction is another.

The trick, I think, lies in identifying your funding sources. Does Craig Newmark want to be a media mogul? Does some other multi-millionaire? If they do, or can be convinced they want to, there's no reason why this can't work. But at some point, ownership accrues.

In other words, he who has the gold makes the rules.