News as a conversation

Repeat to yourself three times: A story is just the starting point of a conversation with readers.

The “reporting from a lofty place” days are over. But some habits are hard to shake. So how have news organizations reinvented themselves to really, truly be a part of the communities they’re reporting on?

The Bakersfield Californian did it in a number of ways. In Journalism Next (Chapter 10), Mark Briggs writes about how to “manage and leverage” that conversation. Read that chapter and prepare to ask Mike Jenner questions. He’ll be with us tomorrow for a conversation about — you guessed it — conversation.

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8 Responses to News as a conversation

  1. brad says:

    This is extremely good news in the era of the death and destruction of journalism, but WHERE in God’s name is this paper getting the startup money for these ventures? If I’m counting right, the Californian has
    -launched three new citizen-journalism-fed community newspapers with strong online counterparts
    -developed text-message products (I’m assuming new software – meaning the hiring of techies, designers, etc)
    -developed this online Bakomatic, which after visiting it online, seems to be pretty well done and complex (even more techies, more software developers, etc)
    -developed a bilingual newsprint tabloid on the streets and a robust site online delivered weekly (though written by “some of” the Latino population, I’m assuming that means more writers hired for this publication)
    -launched TehachapiNews.com and NewtoBakersfield.com (techies techies techies, designer designer designers)

    I understand that the Northwest Voice & Southwest voice are funded almost entirely from donors, but the rest of this has got to cost a fortune, and in an era when newspapers are doing everything to cut costs just to stay in the black, I’m curious as to how this paper has managed to branch out and ‘experiment’ with these ventures, and yet still stay afloat?

    Not trying to be a killjoy…. this is good news. I’m just wondering..

  2. rosiedowney says:

    This article contained many good tips for reporters like myself who write for the Columbia Missourian neighborhoods blog. I will definitely try and integrate them into my future neighborhood reporting assignments.

  3. In the case of the Annie Le story we brought up the rise of “hyperlocal” sites dedicated to integrating their reporting into the fabric of their community. For non-hyperlocal new sources one way they can be apart of their communities is to create broad, topic-based projects that is relevant to the entire community. Following the City Hall shooting in the St. Louis County suburb of Kirkwood in 2008, the St. Louis Beacon started a series called Kirkwood’s Journey which outlined how the city’s understanding of race affects them and how it played into the City Hall shooting. This series is a part of their broader project, Race, Frankly, which discusses the issues of race and discrimination in the region.

  4. mmarkelz says:

    The Californian citizen journalism model reminded me a lot of this Ted.com video a friend told me about: http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_pink_on_motivation.html

    It seems like this is one more example of the success of “intrinsically motivated” innovation.

  5. One of Fulton’s quotes really stuck out to me: “It’s not really a question of whether newspapers can figure out citizen journalism, it’s more that newspapers have to learn how to participate, because people on the Internet already know how to do that.”

    I hadn’t thought about it this way before, but it’s not about newspapers needing to train their readers–it’s that we need to learn from them, and learn to engage in a conversation together.

  6. I was really surprised after class today to learn how much the blog world has come into play, and since my first obligation is to a blog in this class, it makes me feel a little more secure about the whole process knowing that it is becoming a tool to let citizens become involved in their news thus allowing the staff to immerse themselves further into their work.

    Also, as a side note, I really enjoyed the “Ask the Californian” idea. It seems to have a positive impact on the paper and seems like a great way to better serve the reader by uncovering and reporting the stories they want to see.

  7. jaclyndipasquale says:

    I agree about the “Ask the Californian” section. I’ve heard my journalism professors often tell students to get off campus, talk to people, ask them what they want to read about. I think this was the perfect solution for that and it brought up some really interesting material.

  8. I too was relieved when Jenner showed how many blogs are utilized by just the Californian. I had been avoiding blogging for a long time. I didn’t want to put all my thoughts out there and I didn’t even know if anyone would be interested. Similarly with Twitter. It’s good to know I’m prepared to use these tools when editors and potential employers ask in the future. Jenner commenting that it’s one of the things they look for when they hire only reaffirmed that I need to be blogging and blogging often.

    Thank you, Missourian.

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