Sunday, March 25, 2012
I think that a failure of statistical thinking is the major intellectual shortcoming of our universities, journalism and intellectual culture. Cognitive psychology tells us that the unaided human mind is vulnerable to many fallacies and illusions because of its reliance on its memory for vivid anecdotes rather than systematic statistics. Yet pundits continue to hallucinate trends in freak events, like the Norwegian sniper (who shot all those young people on an island) and make wildly innumerate comparisons, such as between Afghanistan and Vietnam, or between today’s human trafficking and the African slave trade. It’s a holdover of the literary sensibilities of our science-flunking intellectual elite, who would be aghast if someone didn’t know who Milton was, but cheerfully flaunt their ignorance of basic science and mathematics. Steven Pinker (via azspot)
Saturday, February 4, 2012
I hate writing about anyone who is familiar with the press or has a ‘story.’ I like to write about people who don’t necessarily see what their story is, or what my interest might be. I like subjects who really know how to enjoy life or are immersed in whatever they are doing fully. Adrien Nicole LeBlanc, author of “Random Family,” being interviewed by Robert S. Boyton for his book, “The New New Journalism
Friday, January 27, 2012
In memory, we find the most complete release from the narrowness of presented time and place…. The picture is one of human beings confronted by a world in which they can be masters only as they discover ways of escape from the complete sway of immediate circumstances. F.C. Bartlett, Remembering
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
It is not necessary to remind you that the fact that your voice is amplified to the degree where it reaches from one end of the country to the other does not confer upon you greater wisdom or understanding than you possessed when your voice reached only from one end of the bar to the other. Edward R. Murrow
Thursday, December 8, 2011
So now we come to the questioning. The first thing I’d say to any interviewer is … ‘Listen.’ It’s the second thing I’d say too, and the third, and the fourth. ‘Listen … listen … listen … listen.’ And if you do, people will talk. They’ll always talk. Why? Because no one has ever listened to them before in all their lives. Perhaps they’ve not ever even listened to themselves. You don’t have to agree with them or disagree with them, all of that’s irrelevant. Don’t push them, don’t rush them, don’t chase them or harass them with getting on to the next question. Take your time. Or no, let’s put it the right way: let them take their time.

Studs Terkel

I love this quote. There is an overstatement or two in there (Studs would not have been Studs without them), but the message is solid. He was talking about interviewing what he called “the uncelebrated person.” That is exactly what we’re doing at the Public Insight Network. The term “crowdsourcing” would have never passed his lips (at least not without a cuss word — he was not the buzzword type), but that is what he was doing.

Crowdsourcing is just finding people and listening to their stories — it is just journalism.