The Networked Journalist

Over at Assignment Zero my role has shifted recently. I handle most things on the back end, the site improvements that I spreadheaded are almost complete — and now I’m helping to set up other editors to take over specific topics. I admit I’ve been slow to blog recently, but I’ve been pretty slammed. Still, some of my favorite journalism bloggers somehow find time to do it every day. How, I don’t know. Nor can I promise I’m going to devote as much time to Digidave as I do to Assignment Zero right now. But it is something on the horizon — when things clear up, I intend to fully digest all that I’ve learned about what I sometimes call "punk rock journalism." For now, a quick teaser.

These editors responsibilities as I see them are different from a traditional journalist.

How do you do journalism in a networked age?

1. Set up shop

We are inviting people to come into a mutual space and work on a project together. That space has to be spruced up first. Put a welcome mate in front of the door and make sure to have appetizers out for the early guests.

2. Outreach

The idea behind networked journalism is that other people are already interested in the topic somewhere out there in the blogosphere. Smart mobs are already organized around niche blogs, they just don’t have a platform to collaborate. Hopefully by now you’ve set up shop. Now you need to ping them and let them know. If you are covering the environment, for example, lord knows how many environmental blogs are out there, waiting for the chance to contribute their time, information, expert knowledge of a subject to a greater cause. Outreach in this sense is more than just a newsroom opening up a comment thread to their stories. It’s actively seeking out contributors.

3. Working with Participants

Easier said than done. Journalists aren’t trained to necessarily engage or collaborate with other people on a project. Just as there is a gap in the number of journalists with online skills or management skills, being a journalist doesn’t necessarily mean you know how to engage, manager or communicate with volunteers. This is actually an important and subtle talent

4. Edit the Copy

Ahhh, a sigh of relief. We haven’t gotten to this stage in Assignment Zero, so I won’t know for sure. But since the final copy is produced by one person that works with a crowd of researchers, I imagine it will be somewhat similar to traditional editing of copy.

And that’s all I have time to spew out right now. More to come eventually.

On a side note: Don’t forget to check me out at Vibe Wire‘s e-Festival of ideas. I’ll be on a virtual panel with……  Dan Gillmore!!!!  For those who don’t know me — I am a huge fan of Gillmore’s — and the only downside to being on the same panel as him: I won’t be able to quote him as I often do to explain what’s going on in citizen journalism. Oh well, I guess I’ll have to come up with my own brilliant tag lines over the weekend.

1 thought on “The Networked Journalist”

  1. Good start! The party motif metaphor is a very useful tool. But inviting people to the party is creating your own personal network.

    A block party is a bit more accurate. The editor/host just happens to be the director of the party. Making sure that everyone on the block is invited and people bring to the table something of use.

    Usually if people have a stake in the party they will do the right thing. They will bring appropriate food, drink and music. The amazing thing is that they will bring these things will a personal touch. Grandma’s recipe from the old country. A wine that they really appreciate. And that what makes it interesting. Personal stories.

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