By this time tomorrow, nearly 25,000 pages of Sarah Palin’s emails from her time as governor of Alaska will have been released in response to public records requests. Of course, who knows how long it will be before the public gets to see what's actually in them as someone has to sift through the six boxes of emails and make some sort of sense out of them (this is Palin we're talking about here). But the Washington Post, The New York Times, and other news organizations have found a wily way of cutting down on their workload.
They're going to make their readers do it.
Apparently, the trove of emails is so voluminous that these media outlets are enlisting the help of their readers to "pitch in" and analyze, contextualize, and research those emails alongside staff reporters. People interested in "the job" can apply/sign up at the Post or the Times.
So here's why I hate the idea: Besides the fact that it's giving me flashbacks to my several unpaid internships long ago, I'm enormously uncomfortable with the fact that random people will be pawing through these emails and telling us what's significant about them. Farming out the work to volunteers with unknown qualifications is not how huge media organizations typically deal with such information. It's unprofessional, it has the potential to be sloppy, and frankly, it's just asking for trouble.
Think about it: Who do you think would volunteer for such a laborious task? Either someone who loves Sarah Palin and wants to use the emails to show how great she is. Or someone who hates her and wants to use them to destroy her. Neither one is capable of providing an unbiased analysis of what is found in those emails, and to be honest, I expect much more from my trusted news organizations.
What do you think of the idea of farming out the work to readers?
Image via WEBN-TV/Flickr