Corey Spring and the Future of Journalism

Corey Spring has broken the details of a story that no one in traditional journalism had figured out yet. Wrestler Chris Benoit’s murder-suicide seemed to have been predicted by edits to his Wikipedia profile which mentioned the death of his wife.

But the edits were the work of a prankster, which Spring figured out using some fairly straightforward deductions about the IP address of the person who made the edits. This isn’t the first time that his knowledge of how the Internet works has helped Spring share a story; he posted a link to Netscape.com about the New York Times’ story on the AOL search history leak. And Spring’s earned recognition for his reporting on NewsVine before as well; he posted an interview with Dave Chappelle the day the site launched.

But what’s interesting to me here, as in a lot of the work of people who are at the intersection of tech and journalism, such as Andy Baio (more) and Adrian Holovaty (more), is not just the familiarity with how the web works.

What’s most impressive for this new style of journalism is the effortless switching between original reporting, editing, and curating content from other sources, all with the seamlessness of someone who’s a web native. Find a good story in the NY Times? Link to it on Digg or Netscape. Read an original story from the wire services that you can add something to? Start tracking down IP addresses yourself. Find something valuable enough to want to share? Post it on your blog or publish it on NewsVine and make a story out of it. And all of this at the speed that news happens, using a combination of original source material from traditional outlets and powerful tools for researching and publishing online, most of which are free or nearly so.

The most impressive part is that there’s even starting to be rewards for doing so. Sharing links on social services, publishing on the new breed of news sites, or running ads on one’s own blog can all be knitted together into steady enough income that, in a few years, there will be countless people making a living from the skills that Corey Spring is already putting to use.

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