Everyone’s fave citizen journalism political project (Mine included. Heck, I might like OTB even more than that other political project I contribute to. You know, the red one colored peach that smells like a toxic waste dump…) Queen Arianna’s OffTheBus at HuffPo is getting some serious MSM attention… AND contributors by the thousands. From the NYT, 7-23:
OffTheBus.net, the online citizen-journalist arm of the Huffington Post, celebrates its one-year anniversary this month.
Of all the new political, non-candidate sites to spring up during the last year, OTB is now probably the biggest, with 7,500 citizen correspondents. Through its growing pains, it continues to develop the technological and organizational know-how to become a force in journalism even as it challenges the standard notions of traditional journalism.
We have been charting the site’s progress throughout the campaign, with a report in October about its start-up and an interview in April with Mayhill Fowler, the correspondent who gained notoriety after reporting Senator Barack Obama’s “bitter” comments from a closed fund-raiser.
The site has evolved in several different ways. Perhaps most strikingly, OTB’s total of 7,500 citizen correspondents is up from 300 a year ago. Arianna Huffington, who helped found OTB, attributes the dramatic rise to the buzz created by Ms. Fowler’s two big scoops, first the Obama comments, then in early June when Bill Clinton lashed out at a Vanity Fair writer.
The scoops created news and also prompted intense self-reflection among traditional journalists (it’s all about us!). Had Ms. Fowler successfully pushed the envelope for campaign reporting? Or had she so fractured the rules that she set journalism back? Either way, she has become a rainmaker for OTB, the modern-day equivalent of Woodward and Bernstein inspiring hundreds of young cubs to become investigative journalists.
“The numbers started going up with Mayhill, then they accelerated,” Ms. Huffington said. “She became the poster child for ordinary citizens being able to impact the campaign.”