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Monday, May 23, 2011

Alert for journalists: rich pickings from the public record

Fresh from receiving the Douglas Stewart Prize for Non-Fiction as well as Book of the Year for Malcolm Fraser: The Political Memoirs last week, Margaret Simons in a long piece in Crikey points out we are
"right bang slap in the middle of a revolution in the way that governments in the western world hold and make available what, in the buzz word of the times,  is known as public sector information."
And that many in the mainstream media appear not to have noticed.
"In Australia all the important moves in this revolution are being made, not by journalists, but by governments and by engaged and web savvy citizens, often on a volunteer and not for profit basis."
Simons heaps (well earned) praise on Open Australia, wonders why newspapers aren't doing similar things in the state capitals, and suggests journalists do what the Gov 2.0 report  anticipated:
"There is a new set of government data released almost every day. The challenge is to make it mashable – that is, uniform in type so that it can be combined with other datasets, so that one can search it and the patterns and relationships made immediately apparent.... Imagine if a media organization not only harvested and made usable all this, and added intelligence from its archives. The archives, after all, are surely one of the truly unique, and truly valuable assets of legacy media. They are the residue of the operation of journalism over decades and centuries Time to exploit them, I would have thought. The result would be a close to indispensable utility for any citizen who wanted to find out anything. And could you charge for it? I would be willing to bet that you could."
Journalists still working on the basis that if its public there's no story in it, if it falls off the back of a truck there must be a story in it, are, well, missing the bus.

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