Last week a friend and erstwhile colleague, Amanda Michel hit not one but two home runs. Michel was the driving (and as our mutual friend David Cohn notes, unheralded) force behind the Huffington Post's citizen journalism project, Off the Bus. OTB was arguably the first truly successful attempt at citizen journalism, and the Columbia Journalism of Review wisely tapped her to write an in-depth feature on her experience running it, called "Get Off The Bus - the future of Pro-Am Journalism."
Amanda, David and I worked together on Jay Rosen's Assignment Zero. When it ended I wrote that it had been a "beautiful failure," which was to say that while we hadn't achieved our goals, we'd learned a lot about how the crowd might be tapped to produce quality, investigative journalism. I've been inexpressibly pleased to watch Amanda make lemonade out of those lemons with Off the Bus.
As it happens, she now has the opportunity to further develop the distributed reporting model. The same day the CJR piece came out the non-profit, investigative journalism outfit, ProPublica, announced it had hired her to head up its own citizen journalism effort. This is a big deal in our small world of pro-am journalism. Michel is possessed with a big brain, a big heart (an essential attribute when managing dozens-nay-hundreds of unpaid contributors) and a tireless work ethic.
Here's Knight Foundation's Michelle McLellan on what it all means for the journalism community at large.