02 July 2009

NPR Crowdsources Who’s Who Pic

The audience is helping American reporters identify political lobbyists from a series of photographs.

National Public Radio (NPR) decided to crowdsource the task after finding it hard to identify many of the people representing health lobby groups at a senate committee meeting.

Spokesperson Andrea Seabrook told Poynter Online that the photographs were taken with the original intention of enabling journalists to pick out faces.

However, when this only resulted in several identifications, the audience was called on to help.

“We’ve been watching various groups use crowdsourcing to mine and process data, and when it turned out to be harder than we’d originally thought to ID lobbyists ourselves, we thought we’d give it a shot,” said Seabrook.

She added: “We’re very glad we did. It seems to be making the story more interactive and engaging for our listeners, and we’ve already gotten quite a few great leads.”

The crowdsourcing effort forms part of NPR’s Dollar Politics series, which is looking at the impact of lobbying on US legislature with regards to healthcare, banking regulations and energy.

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