Technology reporting has become a function of every single major news beat these days.
From politics to crime, business and finance to entertainment, it’s increasingly important that reporters get a good grounding in the technology that’s transforming their beats to avoid basic errors.
For John Biggs, a contributing writer at TechCrunch, the problem became so acute in the reporting he was seeing from major news sites that he decided to do something about it.
Late last year Biggs launched Tech4Reporters, a web project that links journalists with experts in the tech community free of charge to help solve the problem.
The project Biggs developed now reaches 171 journalists with information from a network of 661 technologists, and Biggs is hoping to expand the scope of the project even further.
Unlike Quora or other knowledge-sharing social networks, Tech4Reporters is anonymous for the reporters that use it and the answers experts provide can only be seen by the reporter that poses the question.
Other services have tried to pitch expert advice to journalists, but their success has been limited by so-called experts’ ability to game the system.
The breadth of the network can also sometimes be a drawback. HelpAReporter, for instance, doesn’t focus exclusively on technology, and some reporters have said that its utility was diluted by that openness.
“I want a reporter to have a programmer available at a moment’s notice to vet a story, build a small script or run through a massive trove of data,” says Biggs. “I want every reporter to have the skills available to help the next Snowden blow the whistle on future malfeasance. The goal is simple: to help journalists work with technology.”
*Editors note: I obviously work with John and know him well… That said, this project is an unequivocally good idea and I’d be happy to write up stories about anyone pursuing similar objectives (especially if they’re free for reporters to use).