Communities, journalism and stories

Suw, Paula Le Dieu and I went out for dinner a few days ago to talk about iCommons, a new project that is growing out of Creative Commons.

There is some really interesting stuff being done by people under the CC banner, and I’m curious as to how the BBC might release some of our news content under CC licencing to give back to the community of participatory media. Just a thought right now, but I’m keen that we as a big broadcaster give back to these communities and not just take pictures, audio and video from citizen journalists, bloggers, podcasters and vloggers.

Paula used to work for the Beeb on the Creative Archive project so knows about some of the rights issues that we might run up against. It’s more difficult than it sounds or should be.

But we got to talking about communities and journalism. Paula said that the job of journalists, if you really boil it down, is to tell stories about their communities.

Living in a Bubble

I was at the Web+10 conference at Poynter last year, and I remember we were talking about blogging. Someone said that the world of blogging seemed like an echo chamber.

Well, as the barbian inside the gates, I stuck my hand up and said: “I’ve worked in the Washington for 6 years, and if the Washington Press Corps isn’t a echo chamber, I don’t know what is.” Even in a room full of journalists, applause broke out. If journalists repond like that, what about our readers and our viewers?

Sometimes, it feels like journalists and politicians are just talking to each other, and it frankly doesn’t have much to do with what the average citizen really cares about. Who’s communities are we telling stories about?

You decide. I report

As an American working for the BBC, covering my own country from one step removed, I had an interesting position somewhere both inside and outside. I wrote a blog of sorts during the 2004 election Technically, the blog were just static pages generated by our production system with some user comments, but I tried to behave like a blogger and have a conversation with my readers.

I took the view that the campaigns and the press corps that followed them stuck to their own scripts. Was there something more that people wanted to talk about? You bet. Healthcare. Social Security. Issues. It felt like a community.

I guess that’s why I’m surprised that this whole bloggers versus journalists battle still rages on. Bloggers are only a part of the communities we serve, but I don’t know why more journalists don’t blog. And I don’t mean using a blog as another way to package a column. As Bob Cauthorn wrote, that is just old school journalists “getting snaps from aging publishers for getting jiggy with the youngsters by jumping into that blogging thing”.

No, I mean blogging to actually have a conversation with your readers, your viewers, your communities.
I joked wih readers of the blog: You decide. I report.

I think sometimes our audiences feel like we’ve left them. It’s not surprising that they’re leaving us.

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