Gannett newspapers are turning to their readers to help research and write stories in a new "crowdsourcing" initiative. The idea is to tap into the knowledge, and even investigative zeal, of readers to help cover stories for the papers. It sounds like USA Today wants to look more like Digg.
But figuring out how to tap into the culture of participation without abandoning journalistic objectivity is going to be tricky. Once people figure out that they can influence what goes on the front pages of Gannett's 90 local papers across the country, they will try to game the system. As Digg is finding out, giving the crowd a voice comes with its own set of issues.
Watch out for some people in the publicity industry using these idea - and comming to grief.