Assignment Zero–FBLA Struggles Not to Pun


Jay Rosen’s brainchild, Assignment Zero is up and running, with Beta stamped all over it. The website is pretty. Everyone involved is earnest and self-conscious. People who went to Harvard mention the fact. Lots of people from Wired. Why not find people from small town papers, Field & Stream, local TV and the Mommybloggers? Right now, it’s about as diverse as a Williamsburg Starbucks.

Why does all this make FBLA want to run screaming from the room? Is it the ghost of group assignments? Is it the whiff of fermenting communal bean sprouts? Or is it the lack of genuine ideas?

The Assignment Desk doesn’t particularly inspire, but maybe it’s us. Our editor doesn’t inspire us either. Oh, and interviews are supposed to be face-to-face.
WTF? Do we all need to be nick-named Scoop, too?

Crowdsourced Film overlooks the inconvenient truth that way, way too many films are made by committee.
Threadless is for T-shirt designers–dare to dream big. (Know what would be cooler–patterns that anyone could modify and then download to make a custom-made garment.)

Sellaband claims that it takes “real money to get a record cut” which is crap. Making a CD isn’t costly or hard. Playing music people want to hear might be.

Crowdsourced Journalism overlooks exactly what those big thinkers in newsrooms like best about pro-am journalism: cheaper ams, fewer pros.

So, enough cranky-pants jibber-jabber. Participants can get started by doing an interview, research, or writing a piece. The Ethics Primer remind us about the difference between fact and fiction. The Exchange has a tiny number of posts, and most of them suggest topics way too big (biology) or too small (navel-gazing colege students). Who cares about 2nd Life journalists?

Open source journalism can work and work well. FBLA just wonders what happens at AssignmentZero when everyone stops being polite and starts being real.