ProPublica, a non-profit investigative journalism source, has launched a new tool allowing users to share good investigative stories online.
The feature, #MuckReads, is on ProPublica's website and its content is generated by recommendations on Twitter. The feature takes advantage of Twitter's capacity to share links quickly and accompany tweets with a hashtag to allow other users to track the topic.
#MuckReads is dependent on user participation, and ProPublica eventually hopes to turn users' aggregation of stories into an ongoing newsroom resource. The heavy reliance on Twitter is part of a larger trend of editorial work being opened to the public using social media. LongReads, a site that links readers to long articles, also relies on an aggregation of user content. The homepage features two lists: "our picks", articles chosen by the editorial staff, and "community picks", consisted of articles tweeted by users. Users can see how many times their story was retweeted.
The project is also reminiscent of BBC's Watchdog show, a TV show for consumers to share stories of rip-offs and bad business experiences. Starting last year, the show utilised a Twitter feed to address consumers' concerns live on the show, as well as share tips on consumer protection. The show traditionally relied on phone calls, emails, and texts to interact with its audience, but the first night it opened a Twitter feed it received more Tweets than texts.
Incorporating Twitter into its #MuckReads feature is one of ProPublica's best resources to reach a wide, literate audience. Senior Editor Eric Umansky said, "The Web is basically one big conversation and collaboration. #MuckReads is part of both."
ProPublica noted that the new feature is an extension of the site's mission to do journalism that "has real-world impact". #MuckReads will be another way to recognize good investigative journalism and bring attention to important stories.