Why do we need crowdpowered journalism. Pills from the International Journalism Festival #ijf16

Rosy Battaglia
4 min readApr 25, 2016
Perugia, #ijf16, @rosybattaglia

5 days, more than 200 events and 500 speakers from 34 differentcountries. These are the numbers of the International Journalism Festival, which in its 10th edition tried to answer one question: where is journalism going? As usual, the answers have been many and very stimulating.

The future of journalism will not look like its past — and that is a good thing [Dan Gillmor]

I move from the simple fact that the only journalism I consider such is the one that serves people: journalism in the public interest. We’ve touched upon brand journalism too, in Perugia: communication. But I reckon it is not among civil society’s top priorities — especially in Italy, which fell to the 77th place in Reporters Sans Frontiers’ world ranking on press freedom, a country with no real Freedom of information Act (hopefully not for too long now) where journalists are threatened and censored.


And producing investigations in the public interest, which are not simple copies of press releases issued by a ministry, a corporation or a prosecutor’s office, but participated works shared and fact-checked through access to information requests, sounds like something heroic.

This is one of the reasons why, as Cittadini Reattivi we organised the panel Between civic and data journalism: how to work on a crowdsourced journalistic investigation , a conversation looking at other international examples, with Daniel Drepper, co-founder of Correct!v and Gianluca De Martino from Dataninja.

And the festival itself has dedicated various panels to Engagement and Crowdsourcing Journalism, stimulated by Crowd Powered News Network, the working group created by ProPublica thanks to the incredible dedication of Amanda Zamora, Andrew Devigal, Josh Stearns, Andrew Haeg, Dan Gillmor and others.

Why do we need engagement in journalism and what do readers need?

First of all, “regular” readers no longer exist; we are all active participants of the information ecosystem, from the news creation to the news flow. For this reason, both on the ground and in our relationships on the social networks, we should never forget the following:

We need to listen.

We need humility.

We need collaboration.

We need authenticity.

We need ethics.

As Mike Fancher explained very clearly, participated journalism needs ethics (not only participated one, I would add). Ethics can be a useful tool to renew journalism, also in Italy, where the profession is pressed between political and economic power and is forcibly kept distant from the readers — a distance that is still interpreted as “impartiality”.

Basically, we have been very happy to find out that somebody in Europe has been doing this for a while. With Daniel Drepper, co-founder of Correct!v, a non-profit and investigative journalism project, we share the same working method, based on crowdsourcing, exchange and involvement of the citizens who provide and fact-check the information to such an extent that we can say they do part of the investigation work.

And it was Daniel who mentioned humility: we have lots to learn from “science citizens” and “reactive citizens”. Same thing that was told by Gianluca De Martino, co-author, with his colleagues at Dataninja, of the data-driven investigation on confiscated goods in Italy. Now, after their project has gone European, the authors will implement a project of civic monitoring that will engage local communities, on the model of Cittadini Reattivi, together with Libera, an Italian NGO working to fight organised crime and mafia.

But, after all, collaboration is the real innovation. Considering journalism as a service that is delivered by involving the communities (and not only as a service to them) and by creating networks of non profit journalism and traditional media, is a real opportunity. For the readers and the citizens and to raise the quality of information, as the colleagues at ProPublica are showing.

[A heartfelt thank you to Arianna Ciccone and Chris Potter and the whole staff of the International Journalim Festival]

Thanks to Gloria Schiavi for translation.

Learn more on:

Storify by Cittadini Reattivi at #IJF16 (thanks to Gloria Schiavi)

The slides of my intervention at the #IJF16 panel a #ijf16

Video of the panel “Between civic and data journalism: how to work on a crowdsourced”

[In Italian] “Tra giornalismo partecipativo e data journalism: il successo del crowdsourcing” (thanks to journalism festival e Roberta Covelli)

Journalists and citizens: Working together on crowdsourced investigations (thanks to journalism festival e Mina Nacheva)

Video of the panel “Engagement is journalism”

Video of the panel “Today’s tool and tech of engagement”

Video of the panel “Beyond competition multi newsroom collaborations in a time of scarcity”

Video of the panel “Cultivating healthier local news ecosystems”

Video of the panel “The case for engaged journalism”

Video of the panel “The death of journalistic objectvity”.



Rosy Battaglia

civic, investigative and data journalist, owner @cittadinireatti #environment #health #rights #opendata #citizens #foia4italy freelance