As a result, these investigations seem to grow increasingly conspiratorial and reckless.They've adopted their own aesthetic that Sam Biddle at Gawker recently coined as "Chart Brut," a "simple, unrefined, urgent, ominous, striving to be informative, and utterly incomprehensible...digital middle-ground between the string-and-thumbtack cork-board flowcharts favored by premium-cable obsessives like Rust Cohle and Carrie Mathison, and the meaningless tangles of agency responsibilities beloved by security-apparatus bureaucrats, and it's emerged as the defining folk aesthetic of the 2014 internet." This style perfectly describes the investigative phenomenon that gave it life: It's often childish, convoluted, at times impressive, slipshod, obsessive, and slightly frightening.Eight years and countless failed ventures (CNN's i Report, AOL's Patch) later, that dream is almost unrecognizable — more powerful, and at times darker, than the seers and corporate executives imagined.Today's citizen journalism is not owned by any one major media conglomerate; instead, it takes place across the social web and in anonymous message board communities across the internet.The tragedy at Sandy Hook in late 2012 spawned numerous message board threads — some helpful, some heinous — to try to cover the mass shooting.The most infamous example came in April 2013 when the r/findbostonbombers subreddit launched an exhaustive and reckless manhunt that resulted in the spread of damaging misinformation that soon found its way to the New York Post's front page.
Jones' aims, in other words, were well-intentioned; he wanted to work with the media, not in spite of it.
Working fast, but carefully, Jones found a Reddit post from a user who'd been shot that night and had posted a photo of his wounds, beating local and national media to the story hour after hour.
In the hours and days after Aurora, media reporters — myself included — spoke to Jones and Reddit about this seemingly new style of citizen journalism, fueled by social media and aided by an intimate familiarity with news cycles and the internet.
Social media, often fueled by citizens on the ground, has proven itself invaluable during breaking news for years, and role of the citizen journalist is likely to play an increasingly visible role in the current media ecosystem for some time now.
Social media will continue to give oxygen to new events and movements like Ferguson, which may never have reached the greater public without it.