Reddit decides to give citizen journalism a proper go with Liveupdate tool

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It may not be great at rooting out terrorists, but Reddit reckons that its massive and active user base could be a serious force when it comes to live reporting.

To that end, the discussion board site has launched a live blog style feature for reporting on events in real time.

The feature, which was actually on display during the recent TwitchPlaysPokemon experiment reported on by Memeburn sister site Gearburn, is called Liveupdate and Reddit has big plans for it.

Among those plans, it says, to open it up to allow anyone to create and manage a stream. Right now, only admins (reddit employees) can create streams and add reporters to them. According to the site, this means that it can “focus on and test the main update system first in a more manageable way”.

It also plans to include embedding of source media in updates, including pictures, video, and reddit comments in future iterations. Perhaps more importantly though, it also wants to include a system for reporters to coordinate with each other privately and to get reports and feedback from the community.

As GigaOm’s Matthew Ingram notes, the tool won’t just be used to report on server-busting multi-player games.

Indeed, Reddit’s already signaled that it has more serious intentions for the tool. The second Beta test for Liveupdate involved people on the ground reporting from Ukraine.

Right now the feature is, true to Reddit’s nature, a little rough around the edges. That said, the site stands a better chance than most of actually being able to put the tools available to most journalists in the hands of ordinary people.

Terrorist spotting gaffes aside, the community is actually pretty good at policing itself and people as powerful as US president Barack Obama have recognised its significance as a communication tool.

Yes, the anonymity it grants its users will be a factor that needs to be taken into consideration and their stories will have to be fact-checked. Then again, any journalist who doesn’t do that with an anonymous source is asking for trouble.

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