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Open Source Series - Blog Post 6: Open Sourcing Communication

Communication is the fuel that is keeping today's world running. Everything from business to sports to government to entertainment are being driven by our ever increasingly digital and mobile communication channels. One communication outlet that has been transformed by technology developments is media itself, in particular journalism. As more people consume news online and social media has become the prime aggregator of this news, there has been a growing sense of control of information that is spread. According to the Pew Research Center, "about six-in-ten (62%) [Americans] say social media companies have too much control over the mix of news that people see on their sites" (Shearer, 2019).

Source - Pew Research Center: Americans are Wary of the Role Social Media Sites Play in Delivering the News

However, as news media skepticism grows worldwide and digital tools become increasingly robust and accessible, reporters and news organizations are engaging more proactively in open-source journalism — a practice in which reporters investigate and construct stories based on publicly available data, including via social media (Schomer, 2019).

Building Trust and Legitimacy in the News through Open Networks

While journalism had largely leveraged one-sided communication in the past, the use of digital media and social media have shaped it to be a more collaborative experience between news organizations and the general public.

User-generated content on social media has become a primary source material and created a trail for journalists to investigate. Moreover, by performing investigative research in this way, reporters can more easily connect directly to visual evidence on the web, rather than going through the strenuous and lengthy process of collecting private sources. For example, is an online social networking site that started in 2006, became one of the ten most visited sites in 2013, and currently has over 100 million monthly active users (Schumacher, 2018). Although Twitter is a social media site for people to share blurbs and thoughts in under 140 characters, it is also a hub of information and public conversation for any major or minor event. For example, after the Parkland, Florida shooting in February 2018, the students who lived through the incident on lockdown immediately shared their experiences on Twitter from their points of view. Additionally, businesses also make most of their biggest announcements on social platforms like Twitter, such as IHOP when it surprised its customers with a sudden rebranding to "IHOb" (International House of Burgers).

With rising engagement between news sources and the general public, open-source journalism strives to provide society the transparency it upholds in the communication of information.

Source - Elon Musk announcing his intentions to make Tesla into a private company on Twitter--- this shortly faced a backlash from both the general public and company investors for the abrupt news.

According to a Gallup/Knight Foundation study, 74% of Americans think it's a good idea for journalists to interact with audiences on social media, and 93% approve of journalists using social media to both share additional research or background information that went into their reporting, and to answer questions from their audience about their reporting (Schomer, 2019). This public desire for journalists to make their sources known and accessible reinforces the goals of open-source journalism. One movement that has been derived from the transparency sought in this new wave of journalism is the "show your work" campaign which encourage journalists and other news producers to explain their sources and the process by which news content is made (Schomer, 2019). This collaborative nature of open-source journalism demonstrate how the public can be an effective news gathering tool, or "means to generate an outside critique of any specific news item (Casey, 2013)". The public is pooling its expertise and ideally helping the journalist get the final product as accurate as possible. This can be achieved through public comments, different modes of collaboration, offering outside ideas and rigorous fact checking of data.


The way we gain information is more important than ever especially in an age where "fake news" permeates our communication channels. Open source journalism engages citizen, journalists, and subject-matter experts to interact with one another to ensure quality and accessibility in the current-event information people consume.


Casey, D. (2013, January 15). Explainer: Open source journalism. Retrieved March 29, 2020, from

Schuhmacher. View, T. (2018, July 23). Twitter as a News Source. Retrieved March 29, 2020, from

Shearer, E., & Grieco, E. (2019, December 31). Americans Are Wary of the Role Social Media Sites Play in Delivering the News. Retrieved March 29, 2020, from

Schomer, A. (2019, December 3). News organizations are engaging more proactively in open-source journalism to rebuild trust in news media. Retrieved March 28, 2020, from

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