Tomorrow, the State of Alaska is set to release over 24,000 of Sarah Palin’s emails, “covering much of her tenure as governor of Alaska.” The New York Times is hoping that its readers will pitch in and help them filter this vast cache of new data on the former governor and erstwhile vice presidential candidate. Derek Willis announced the project on the Times’s Caucus blog.
“We’re asking readers to help us identify interesting and newsworthy e-mails, people and events that we may want to highlight. Interested users can fill out a simple form to describe the nature of the e-mail, and provide a name and e-mail address so we’ll know who should get the credit. Join us here on Friday afternoon and into the weekend to participate.”
The Times has a cadre of reporters in Alaska’s capitol, Juneau. But the sheer amount of information and the perennial race to be first out with the story has inspired the news to lasso their readers into the process. The NYT has a robust relationship with the Web (including a syndication deal with ReadWriteWeb) and has a reasonably intelligent and engaged readership.
The release, which begins at 9:00 a.m. Alaska time (one hour earlier than Pacific Time) tomorrow, will consist of “e-mails Ms. Palin sent as governor, mostly using private accounts” and “are to be released in response to public records requests first made in 2008,” according to the Times. The release is only being made in hard copy, which will fill “six standard paper boxes, a total of about 250 pounds at a printing cost of $725 per set.”
Palin is currently on a bus trip across the country which reads as a thinly-disguised public relations event and temperature-taking for a possible run at the presidency. Even if she decides against running, her influence with the right-wing Tea Party movement makes her newsworthy. So what she my have thought and how she may have acted while in office as Alaska’s governor will be of interest to many.
Other news organizations are also preparing processes to leverage the participation of their audience, including MSNBC, Mother Jones and ProPublica, who are working with Crivella West to create a publicly searchable database.
Palin photo by asecondhandconjecture