There are few things more useful than a clear, candid case study — especially in domains full of talk and theorizing. Case (study) in point: Amanda Michel’s CJR post-mortem on the Huffington Post’s Off the Bus citizen journalism project, which she led.
Here’s a taste:
OTB was the fourth organization I had launched, and I had become a working existentialist: you are what you do. Rather than write manifestos or abstract guidelines, I focused our membership on immediate goals and challenges. Our projects built a culture based on journalistic standards that drew heavily, but not exclusively, from so-called Old Media. We sent back pieces for rewrites and subjected our contributors to different degrees of editing. Deadlines and assignments weren’t just practical necessities; they were our best marketing tools. [..]
Stories, not technology, were our best organizing tools.
What I love about this piece is that it’s fully “operationalized” — it’s almost a guidebook to running an operation like this. Nicely done.
Oh yeah, and: Amanda is joining ProPublica!