Two takes on the storypushing idea

…wherein the readers push the story ideas up the rankings until a pro journalist takes over to do some reporting on the topic and turns out an article…

So I was imagining this Digg-ish thing where readers would vote for story ideas, adding their own research and insight along the way, preferably with some data wherever possible.

And I’ve now seen two sites that, well, don’t do that exactly, but they do something.

First, I heard Jason Calacanis on the Bloggercon lunch Gillmor Gang this morning talking about the new Netscape.

It’s essentially a Digg clone, but after hearing Jason lay out the reasons why that’s okay, I’m not going to worry too much about that. The point is this: Calacanis has a posse of “anchors” who supposedly are doing bits of fact-checking and follow-up on stories that are posted. It’s an interesting approach, but trying to get a comment from the congressman who told Colbert that he’s into cocaine and hookers is not exactly what I’d call performing a useful public function.

Nevertheless, Jason promises more, so it’s worth keeping an eye on this.

Then I noticed a link to something called AskQuestions.org in the comments of Jay’s post.

Readers, er, ask questions, then vote for the story ideas they like. The folks behind the site seem familiar and credible enough, and I like the simple feel of the site, especially the “Me Too!” button, which is a far more human touch than just coming up with another made-up word for “Digg.”

It looks like they’ve got a pair of writers and a crop of researchers, but no articles have been posted since June 2005, so maybe this is a bit dormant at this point. Either way, it looks like they tried a piece of what Jay is talking about.

The key to this might be keeping it local. Is it really feasible to have a reporter tackle a national issue based on user requests? Maybe, but the army of distributed researchers would have to stretch pretty wide to give any credibility to the results of an investigation. On a smaller, local scale, the information from contributors should be far more detailed and accurate, not to mention easier to confirm, plus you’d have the advantage, hopefully, of a more passionate core of researchers who care about their neighborhood. Maybe.

What do you think?

Are you prepared to ask your readers to help generate and research stories? On what scale? Does this belong on the front page of your newspaper, or off in a hyperlocal corner where the folks most interested can get at it without disrupting anyone else’s ideas about credibility?