Food for thought: +Melanie Sill
's new paper on open journalism. (Confession: I skipped to the part about the Watershed Post's Irene coverage first. Reading the whole thing now.)
A snippet from the intro:
"When I grew up in the news business, the guiding idea was ownership. If you were excelling, you owned the story. If you owned the story, people had to come to you to get it.
In 2011, no one owns a story. Everyone’s a distributor and most people can be a contributor. Not everyone wants to create journalism but lots of people are able to do so in certain circumstances."
We got overwhelming proof of this during Irene. We got so much help from non-journalists. When people have an urgent need for real-time information, they get really good at sharing it, and at doing a lot of the things reporters do. And we let go of trying to own the story very early on -- with the result that we ended up doing something much more powerful than we could have done on our own, and, paradoxically, got a lot of personal props for it, including being included in this here paper.
Another confession: The words "user-generated content" give me rage-hives. There are so many examples of that kind of thing done badly. But involving readers in news coverage isn't the same thing as just leaving a back door open for people to create content (and then being surprised that it doesn't work all that well). We've got to find more directed, efficient and intelligent ways of working with readers. Working on that.