A piece by Slate writer Farhad Manjoo made waves this week for exposing the secret behind Buzzfeed’s viral success: repackaging content from online communities such as Reddit in a way that’s easier to consume and appealing to a broader audience.
Manjoo’s post is a great springboard for something I’ve been thinking about for months: Is Reddit a journalist?
Socially savvy journalists already recognize that Reddit is a veritable cornucopia of story ideas and content. However, if you go a little deeper (“we’ve got to go deeper!”), you’ll find the Reddit community does a lot of what a good journalist should do: it reports news, it checks sources, it calls BS on false information. Possibly most importantly: it creates and curates.
The OPs of Reddit — the Original Posters — create an enourmous pile of content on a daily basis for the much-revered “Knights of New,” who stand at the Gates of Creation to determine which content will have a chance at making the beloved front page. Redditors with an expertise in a certain field correct invalid information, seemingly hyperbolic claims are met with skepticism at best.
So there’s creation, curation, source-checking and fact-checking. The Reddit hive-mind is, I believe, a journalist.
This is really an open-ended thought piece that I’d like to prompt a couple of discussions: Is Reddit a journalist, and should journalists cite it (and other similar platforms) when repurposing content posted there?
I’d love to hear what you think. Leave a comment below or shoot me a tweet at @AlexJamesFitz.