Today I proposed an idea that I think could help do something about it.
I have had an idea for awhile about creating a site for collaborative online journalism... a web-based application specifically designed to enable normal people to do a kind of "open source journalism" that would ideally be, by design, every bit as reputable as "the real thing" and would be far more transparent. You, the reader, could see the facts of the story, examine the credibility of the sources, and have access to all the source material that goes into the story itself. You'd no longer be at the mercy of someone else's "credible source" to verify the truth of the news you read.
Rather than trying to do everything by myself, I proposed the idea in MetaFilter's "MetaTalk" community instead.
117 comments later...
I was more than impressed by the response. There are a lot of people out there (including Matt Haughey, the founder of MetaFilter and Rusty Foster, the founder of Kuro5hin.org) who are very excited about this. Looks like things are going to happen!
The problem really is just how you go about developping a web-based application that enables people to submit stories, rumors, etc. and will help them along the process of researching the stories, verifying leads, working with teams, etc. There are a lot of ways of doing it, but we seem to all be in agreement that it needs to be done.
The MetaFilter community is a particularly good place to plant this kind of seed, due to the number of stories that have been developped there and found their way into the mainstream media. The interest in doing this kind of collaborative journalism is already there, and, in fact, addresses several needs within their community.
All I can say is that in a world where the only reporting is either censored, sterilized, or hopelessly biased, we need an independent way to verify the validity of any claim the media makes, or, failing that, to make the news ourselves.