Citizen journalism has faced one major obstacle that has prevented it from going totally mainstream: Source verification. This is an issue that I have discussed frequently with my friend and former classmate Torsten Mueller, of MundusMedia in Germany, who is hoping to find solutions to this problem. As a Poynter blog noted, breaking news often hits Twitter first and then spreads to the mainstream media.
Now, teams of researchers are creating methods to help verify sources:
Late last year, a team of researches at Duke University (alongside a researcher from Microsoft) announced the creation of YouProve, an Android-based system (that may not gain traction simply because of privacy issues).
Poynter also points to the work of Rutgers researchers.
I suspect that verification has been a problem for citizen journalism sites like London-based photojournalism agency Demotix (that took an undisclosed investment last year from Corbis, which is privately owned by one Bill Gates) and Citizenside (that took an investment from AFP in 2007).
However, questions of privacy still remain: Verification also means that one’s personal information could/should be compromised for the sake of authenticity. This could lead to problems for anyone who hopes to be an anonymous source, whether they’re based in America or in countries with oppressive regimes.