That's the experiment I plan to launch next year with others who think there is something to the idea of open source journalism, where people collaborate peer-to-peer in the production of editorial goods.
The money from Reuters will underwrite the costs of hiring our first editor, who will start in early 2007. (I introduced the idea of New Assignment here. A summary, with blog and press reactions, is here.)
It's going to be a fun job. This is editing horizontally amid journalism gone pro-am. The idea is to draw "smart crowds" - a group of people configured to share intelligence - into collaboration at NewAssignment.Net and get stories done that way that aren't getting done now. By pooling their intelligence and dividing up the work, a network of volunteer users can find things out that the larger public needs to know. I think that's most likely to happen in collaboration with editors and reporters who are paid to meet deadines, and to set a consistent standard. Which is the "pro-am" part.
This may be an opportunity for the journalist lurking in many a PR person's persona.