Guardian journalist sets pace for Leeds students with crowdsourcing

By John Blow


Jon Henley

Journalism trainees should take note of the crowdsourcing methods of a Guardian writer who will speak at Journalism Week on Monday, says a principal lecturer.

Deirdre O’Neill, associate principal lecturer in journalism, invited Jon Henley to speak at the event after meeting him at a conference in Mechelen, Belgium, where he championed social media as a means to find and share stories.

His 2012 blog series Greece on the Breadline used Twitter to request information from locals who knew of unique examples of self-help after its economic downturn, before travelling there and telling respondents and their families’ stories.

Mrs O’Neill said: “I just found that project really interesting – to see how something like that could develop for a whole story.”

She also thought the level of reportage about poverty in the UK was poor, and that aspiring journalists could adopt crowdsourcing methods.

“When you haven’t got a toe-hold, it is a great way of getting into places and really seeing what is going on in our cities. I think it’s bizarre how little coverage we have and have to contact bishops to say people are starving. Why isn’t there more coverage? It seems to me to be disgraceful,” she added.

Mr Henley, whose 2013 multimedia Firestorm piece won the Walkley award for Guardian Australia, has worked at the newspaper for over 20 years and filed from as many countries.

After joining the paper in Amsterdam, he later reported from Brussels, Scandinavia and Paris – where he was chief correspondent for nearly nine years until 2006.

Click here to listen to students’ views on crowdsourcing methods.


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