In his most recent post, Mykola raised a lot of questions about Assignment Zero. I want to respond narrowly because there is one point I think it is important to make.
Certainly Assignment Zero isn't for everyone on Newsvine.
However, anyone interested in producing journalism -- whether as a hobbyist or a freelancer or a hired newspaper reporter -- should grasp the rare opportunity presented here to have their writing closely edited by Lauren Sandler, a talented journalist, or Steve Fox, formerly of the Washington Post, or any among the ranks of experienced people that Assignment Zero has hired to mentor writers.
Whatever the relative merits of their approaches, citizen journalists and professionals have things to learn from one another; this is a pretty rare opportunity to learn those things.
It's a great thing to have your writing closely edited by someone with experience. If you've ever had a guitar session from a good instructor, or a golf lesson from a good pro, you understand why -- these are pursuits that one can pleasantly toil away at as a hobbyist, improving on one's own, but a one hour lesson every now and then from someone who's done something a lot longer than you can teach you things it would take you years to work out on your own.
If you value that -- if you're someone who seeks to improve the clarity or structure of your prose, or the depth of your reporting -- the most compelling reason to participate in Assignment Zero isn't the recognition you'll receive, or the fact that you'll get to contribute to a cool experiment. It's the fact that you're going to work with a pro who can teach you something useful, so that everything you write afterward will be that much better.
As I said, this particular benefit doesn't apply to everyone. If it applies to you, however, I encourage you to sign on to one of Newsvine's three assignments -- or just go to Assignment Zero if none of them interest you to find one that does -- and whether you're writing up a Q&A, or research notes, or a full article, after submitting the best you can do email an AZ editor until he or she takes a look, sends constructive feedback, and helps you to become a better writer.