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Ideas for creating communities on newspaper sites

March 19, 2009

I tweeted this question on Twitter:

How can newspapers build communities on their sites? Any ideas you’ve been wanting to share? Please retweet (leave comments).

@EricKaiser: “newspapers sites connect people to content well, they need to connect people to people, that’s what they need in a nutshell.”
@Gennyfer: “Writers/reporters will all need to become more interactive. Allow comments, thank commenters, and even continue discussion.”
@SamCousins: “papers try to be the central hub, putting their content behind a locked gate (registration/etc) when others are giving it away”
@SamCousins: “having local photos online is awesome. but if I can’t find them on google, what’s the use? also, need to reach out to FB, etc”

  • @SamCousins: “ever go on fark.com? local news could do good by keeping tabs & linking to local content. be the place where people go first.”
  • @EricKaiser: “check out meehive.com if you’re not familiar with them, they’re heading in the right direction.”

@SamCousins: “meehive looks interesting, but I’d almost prefer a human editor picking the best, rather than a robot.”
@SamCousins: “A newspaper could easily link to local blog posts. These are things we didn’t cover, but are worth seeing.”
@SamCousins: “well, there’s a minor backlash against MSM news. the AP has been batshit insane about people linking to them without paying.”

@SpecialDee (me): “I thought papers would link 2 bloggers, not other way around. ”
@SamCousins: “i would love to see papers link to bloggers outside their own paid folks. but i think they’re too scared to.”
@Gennyfer: “Sometimes when I flow link to NYT article I get right to it & read. Mostly it asks me to sign in. I never bother to read those.”
@Gennyfer: “Lazy? Yes. Not normal? Probably not. Make it as easy as possible for readers. They won’t jump through hoops.”
@SpecialDee (me): “do u think if you were able to carry your “identity” with you & be able to sign in all sites, say as Gennyfer, that would be ok?”
@Gennyfer: “I’d like that. Many sites make it easy. I do keep going back to facebook when they have flaky sign in every minute days. Hmmm?”

Comments of interest from #journ2journ chat Thursday, March 19, 2009:

@JDEbberley: “newspapers should start and build forums.”
@JDEbberley: “Newspapers should find a way to encourage online conversations with their readers.”
@LifeofMichael: “i think they have to take back the ground they’ve ceded to craigslist, bloggers, etc. …”
@LifeofMichael: “4 example … allow people to truly connect .. still so many of us view news as passive … it’s not any longer ”
@LifeofMichael: “interactive is everything from adopting & incorporating the best local blogs …”
@LifeofMichael: “& providing a place for community contributors”
@ChuckWelch: “I don’t see newspapers as able to accomplish either. But, I think they can add value to them.”
@ChuckWelch: “As a community contributor, why not create my own place rather than join the paper?”
@LifeofMichael:: “perhaps not, so let me ask Q1(a) are we trying to save newspapers as organizations or journalism?”

  • @JDEbberley: “News is no longer passive; it’s a participatory medium”
  • @LifeofMichael:: “so few know how to build the infrastructure/contacts for community contributions … that’s what paper can provide”

@ChuckWelch: “Could it be time the infrastructure is abandoned and rebuilt? Maybe the old methods are outdated.”
@ChuckWelch: “I would mourn the end of journalism, but not the end of newspapers.”
@LifeofMichael: ” think it’s a lock many of our methods our outdated … yes, they could be rebuilt”
@ChuckWelch: “But I believe journalism isn’t on life support. It’s just metamorphosing.”
@LifeofMichael: “but why spend time on stuff we don’t have to if journalists w contacts can be preserved”
@ChuckWelch: “forums: I believe newspapers erred greatly by allowing anon and pseudonym forums. It damaged the effectiveness of the conversat”
@ChuckWelch: ” journalists w contacts are being driven away because the newspapers are cutting experienced people.”
@MaryKnudson: “The newspaper framework of reporters & editors trained & believing n journalism must be kept, but not the paper”

  • @SternalPR: “I’d like to see lots of easy to use discussion sections on local topics. Sun-Sentinel.com is good with this.”

@ScottNelson:At the same time, we have to stay (at least a little) in the black while we figure out the new bizz model. Tough.”

  • @SternalPR: “4 example: I’d like to see my local sports reporters make small updates throughout the day where we can all chime in”
  • @SternalPR: “Instead of just having the few stories from the print section that are up all day long. By 10 a.m. it’s old news already.”

@LifeofMichael: “2 b honest fellas, i think it takes journalists willing 2 connect w readers.users-it’s the expectation”
@JDEbberly“Imagine during football season, during rivalry games! I bet that would catch on.”

@mommadona: “How can citizen researchers get in contact w/journalists?”
  • @jonnew: “The Newark Star Ledger does of really good job of updating blog style throughout the day.”
  • @chuckwelch: “I agree, but small updates seems against the inverted pyramid.”
@SternalPR: “I like that. Love the fact that I have grown stronger relationships w local reporters thru Twitter.”
@LifeofMichael: “love that idea John! especially 4 spring training, etc. places where users/reporters can meet up”
  • @chuckwelch: “I agree. It’s journalists who must invite the community to the table.”
@SternalPR: “Perhaps the way news is reported (invert pyr.) has to change? Crazy thought, but we are in crazy times, no?”
@joeybaker: “seems like citz can contact journos easier than ever. Email, commenting, their own blog, etc.”
@LifeofMichael: “momma, that, i think, rests w journalists to put themselves out there”
  • @LifeofMichael: “true joey … but journalists must also b willing 2 listen”
  • @ScottNelson: “Agreed. That’s a given, whatever comes next. Combo of pro, semi-pro and total citizen content is mandatory.”
@joeybaker: “hopefully, journos are not dumb enough to ignore their greatest resource – sources at their finger tips online!”
  • @SternalPR: “Perhaps local newspapers should all do away w nat and world news? I can get that from cnn.com – and i do.”
@ScottNelson: “And of real interaction between reps and readers, more to your point. We have 2 be more open 2 that.”
@LifeofMichael: “indeed. now i want to be clear, sometimes audience doesn’t know what it going on ..”
@catekustanczy: “Arts journalist working online writing and producing video content. Also arts segment prod for a radio morning show. Allo!”
  • @LifeofMichael: “we still have a responsibility 2 reveal news people need, not just hand over complete editorial control”
@catekustanczy: “I interviewed John Roberts last week, & he seemed to think online sites would be the accessory for print in future”
  • @SternalPR: “Blogging, emails and twitter all enable everyone to do a letter to the editor. How can newsroom merchandise this “voice”?”
@chuckwelch: “The Sentinel is reaching out more to citizen reporters. How is that working out?”
@BeachBeat: “The citizen reporters are sporadic. Some are ok, but it’s not consistent.”
@SuziSteffen: “Q1: I def want to open blogs to community (some … we have some cranks in our town!) & see how that goes.”
@ScottNelson“Of course. That’s why I listed “pro” first. There’s a real value 2 tough journalism by pros with real contacts.”
  • @joeybaker: “basically: if google is your entry point to the web, your local newsorg needs to be the entry to the community”
  • @LifeofMichael: “twitter, if put n2 place the right way, can be used to tweet ?s to anchors 4 follow up questions …”
  • @LifeofMichael: “but more importantly, can be used in live news events by reports who pose the questions of the audience directly”
  • @SternalPR: “Love that. I think Twitter can bring the community into the newsroom, which is what ur looking for.”
  • @SuziSteffen: “And do you think that the new SeattlePI, the NYT community blogs etc. achieve that?”
  • @joeybaker: “We’ll have to wait and see on the PI, but @nytimes doesn’t. It’s larger than just community bloggers”
@SpecialDee: “Does anyone visit a newspaper site to look for coupons from local advertisers?”
@mommadona: “Sometimes-mainly for weekly shopping..I live on a mountain, so every trip is planned.”
@mommadona: Q2: “How Jour can help-open discussions of limited time/subjects-guide discussions with your experience.”
  • @BeachBeat: “Using Twitter to bring community in works if u have enough community there but in my area it’s still a small %age.”
@SuziSteffen: “I’m working on wiki/blog/Twitter for my reporting 1 class spring term. Trying to get them to write well PLUS know some tools.”
@SuziSteffen: “Q2: I like live-blogging important events & need to do more analysis afterward.”
@seanmcdonald: “re state of journalism: as @steverubel would say deforestation, innovation, forestation”
@LifeofMichael: “interesting! is this the deforestation phase?”
@chuckwelch: “So true how human organizations seem to follow natural patterns.”
@LifeofMichael: “the natural question is: where are the seeds for the next gen coming from?”
  • @SpecialDee: “Newspapers are a great resource – a trusted resource. And why? Integrity. Journalism.”
@seanmcdonald: “seems so. technology allows 4 distributed story/news tellers, economy can’t support old media, online thrives…”
@seanmcdonald: “everyone/thing can be a seed. trend now is towards filtering and aggregating (cultivating) the best content…”
@SpecialDee: “Contact info should contain Twitter names”
@SpecialDee: “Do you find a wide selection of coupons to use locally on your newspaper’s site?”
@mommadona: “It’s usually seasonal-a tourist area-many are-“visit us on the web” & discount for mentioning ad”
@chuckwelch: “Handcopy-Press-DesktopPublishing-Web. Each lurch allowed more publishers and wider audiences.”
@LifeofMichael: “great point … this is all just distribution … product remains the product … we make it good, or bad”
@SpecialDee: “I wonder if peeps are finding other uses 4 visiting newspaper sites: real estate, cars?”
@BeachBeat: “I like using my twitter name on my stories, just as I liked publishing email addresses (w/good spam filters)”

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