An interesting experiment by the Minnesota Daily student newspaper

Is this the future of journalism? You betcha.
Is this the future of journalism? You betcha.

Today, the Minnesota Daily, the top-flight student newspaper of the U of M, is debuting an ambitious new journalistic experiment that could play a role in shaping the future of a very disrupted industry.

The newness is a Facebook application. But what it does is full of possibility: users earn points for writing news articles about what's happening in their dorms or getting the word out about important stories in the paper.

The Daily has a lot of support in this bold experiment, as editor Vadim Lavrusik explains in a column this morning:

The Daily didn't make this application on its own. We partnered with the Seattle-based news aggregator NewsCloud, which created the functionality and design of the application. Moreover, the application is being used by University of Minnesota researcher Christine Greenhow to test ways to engage youth in news through social media. By signing up to take part in the Daily Action Team, users can participate in the research study.

The research is being funded through a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and will end in May and be published next fall.

Where I think they get it right: Providing an incentive for the audience to participate in generating and sharing the news through social networking. It even has a Twitter-like device for students to report breaking news on the go.

This project will be one to watch. It may evolve into a real crowdsourcing model, or it could end up being a festering pit of misinformation, gossip, and juvenalia. We're hoping it's the former, and that the good folks at the U turn it into an iPhone app next.

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