This is one of a number of posts I’m doing today on the past and future of Whaleoil. Here is Part 2, it follows Part 1 (oddly enough)
One of the strengths of Whaleoil is its community. Rather than being an observer of the media, our readers feel participants in it.
This is a critical difference.
Time and time again, our own readers do research and share the results via the Tipline or directly to the comments section.
Because of the electronic medium, we can integrate this new information as an update or a new article.
Instead of “real journalists, trained and skilled”, we have something vastly more important: we have each other. The skill set, experience base and resources available to us as a group far outweigh those of traditional media outlets.
The challenge will be in capturing some of it for the benefit of all of our readers.
And that, in a nutshell, is what Whaleoil is going to achieve this year. Call it citizen journalism, call it cloud journalism, call it anything you like – there is a thirst, a need, and a deep desire for our people to see their own views reflected in the media.
TV news, current affairs and newspapers have lost a lot of their audience. Mostly through market and channel fragmentation. But it also is leaving an increasing number of people feeling there isn’t anything in the media left that speaks their language.
Citizen journalism is of course how journalism started. The rawness, the honesty, the dreadful bias is all part of it. Agree or disagree, it doesn’t matter, because either way, you can’t ignore it.
The challenges involved in making citizen journalism work are actually simple, but at the same time very hard when you start from scratch. Luckily (really? luck? no luck involved)… I should say, fortuitously, Whaleoil has organically grown from a personal blog of Cameron Slater hitting out at the world to something that is much bigger than him.
Cam remains the main attraction, but you – dear readers – are are other ace in the hole.
Your need to have stories come out, to deliver research results, to do the backroom, non-glamorous, anonymous and sometimes thankless tasks that result in an article being created is now at least half of what makes Whaleoil so popular.
Critics look at Cam Slater and simply can’t understand why his audience is increasing at such an alarming rate! What they have failed to observe (although we have reminded people of it regularly), is that Whaleoil is a community, a platform as well as Cam Slater the person.
In 2014, Whaleoil is going to focus on you. Whenever someone says “I can do this, but I can’t do that”, we are going to be the platform to make sure someone else does “that”. Many of you like to help. Many of you want to see change. Few of you will be moved to make a placard and stand outside in protest.
Whaleoil is a vehicle for change. And we are offering it to you.
Some of the work that needs doing is going to be simple, but it needs a team of people to simply take responsibility for it. An example: When a political party makes a statement about policy, it needs to be captured. What is it they said they are going to do, what are the details, when did they promise it and when are they going to implement it. All it takes is for someone to scan the news every day and add any policy statements to a document. Not difficult – can be job shared, and once in place, becomes a valuable public resource. I suspect even the “real” media will end up using it.
Another example: We don’t have the resources to fly people to locations in New Zealand to take a picture, do an interview or do some research. But why fly people there when you already live there and are able and willing to help out?
During 2014, Whaleoil is going to organise the “Whaleoil Ground Crew”.
We already have some of them. Travis and I were the start of this. We now have James, Lux, Michael, Nick, blokeintakapuna and SonovaMin, and many others that don’t seek to be in public eye but are always helping out.
But this effort, when coordinated, is going to be the engine room that will propel Whaleoil into media outlet we can all feel part of.
Could fail? Of course.
Worth doing? You bet!
It doesn’t matter if you help us once a month or every day. When it is your turn to be the right person at the right place at the right time, Whaleoil is going to give you the platform and support to help you do it.
Stay tuned for part 3…