Interesting post by Mark Glaser that does a really thorough job of summing up the challenges the major media outlets are facing as they “get the religion of audience participation.” The central question is:
How do you harness the audienceâ€™s knowledge and participation without
the forums devolving into a messy online brawl that requires
The good news here, as Glaser points out, is that we are finally past the point where people are arguing whether the audience voice should be heard. Most of the major newspapers’ online sites have growing points of participation for readers. The contention now is how to moderate all of those comments and which ones to highlight in “eye catching editorial spaces” presumably to drive more conversation. There seem to be a number of options shaping up, from reader recommendations a la Digg to paid employee moderators to filters that search for certain words. Some, like Business Week, are also motivating people to leave quality comments by offering them special incentives, such as an end of the year dinner with editors on the staff. And, of course, there is also the question of allowing anonymous comments at all. Fascinating read.
All of which once again makes me think of my days as a journalism student in college and how totally different life for a journalist is these days. And, it harkens back to what Dan Gillmor said many moons ago now, that “my readers know more than I do.” (I love showing this example of a USA Today article where the featured interviewee shows up in the comments section to set the story straight.) And it also makes me think about how we have to prepare our kids for this more participatory culture that we’re moving into.
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Brandt Schneider says
I remember a story told by an older White House reporter who said they used to collect news all day, refine their story, check sources, edit, edit, edit, and then be on the news at 6:30pm.
Now, the same reporter is on the Today show, then on every hour on MSNBC, has to write a blog post, etc…
Same is true for NYTimes. They get their stories up instantly now and then continue to edit them during the day. “Todays” news story about Obama could be the 11:07am version or the 11:18am version, etc..
So, when a student turns in a traditional HW or paper and is DONE after one try what exactly are we preparing them for? Here is where the blog is a powerful tool. Editing and participating all in one place.
Mike Maloy says
I tend to ignore the “breaking news” story. How often is it so new that we really have no idea what’s going on? Having a little time to process and get the story right isn’t such a bad thing.
Bethany Smith says
I actually see this as a common online course issue as well. I am constantly asked, “How do I keep my Discussion Board organized and interesting?” Moderating discussion boards (as I’m sure you have found out with your blog) can be a tricky and time consuming business that takes time and effort. But my best solution, and echoes this post and wikis in a way, is that you need to let the audience organize and patrol themselves. In a classroom environment I suggest rotating and having students monitor. In larger settings I have seen “professional monitors,” not only patrol, but keep a board or discussion lively and interesting.
Mike Maloy says
Bethany’s comment reminded me of a Gary Stager post: “Help! I don’t know how to blog!” I went to it to refresh my memory. He said…”I struggle constantly with the problem of what I call ‘the quick and the unread.’ If you don’t respond to a blog quickly, almost at twitch speed, your comments have little chance of being read.” He also talked about disagreements in comments often getting misconstrued as being mean. The tone of the response (as Will commented) means a lot. Sometimes it’s difficult to strike the right tone if you are responding quickly.
How many times do you see a comment chain with response, counter-response, and on and on. That’s probably a conversation that would have happened face to face.
I think its great when people are challenged and then are moved to clarify their original point. It’s like whittling a flint until its sharp. Hopefully the conversation gets better as it continues.