“Now that news is a conversation, one of the greatest challenges facing journalists is how to manage, and leverage, that conversation.” – Mark Briggs

According to Briggs, journalism now means 1) managing online communities as well as 2) participating in various social networks.

Audiences being able to comment on stories online and voice their opinions is not only a way to stay technologically savvy, but it gives the journalist more to work with.

Yes, journalists have always had sources, but by making news into a conversation, journalists can have a lot more sources,” said Patrick Thornton, editor of BeatBlogging.org. “What would you rather have: a network of 25 sources or of 500? Being social with users is easier than ever before, and the more social a journalist is with people, the more sources a journalist can mine.”

Len Brody, who aided in the launch of NowPublic, says there are five different types of user generators based on people’s motivation for commenting. They are:

  1. Those motivated by money (smallest)
  2. Those motivated by ego
  3. Those motivated by issues
  4. Accidental bystanders who didn’t set out to do any reporting (largest)
  5. And the “plain old crazy” users that every Web site seems to have

The chapter then goes on by explain how to build and manage a community online. Here is a list of how to do that:

  • Make news participatory: interactivity by contributing photos, video, event listings, edits, message board posts, blog posts, votes and recommendations and promotions.
  • Journalists must get involved:evangelizing the brand, soliciting the content, moderating comments, solving user problems, running contests, etc.
  • Develop sources through social networks: finding sources through Facebook, MySpace, Linkedln, etc.
  • Collaborate with your community: collaborating with your competitors and fellow journalists to get the best information out there for your audience.

In conclusion, you want to follow these steps to keep conversations accurate and ethical:

  • Setting guidelines for participants
  • Monitoring offensive postings
  • Knowing your legal responsibilities
  • Correcting errors

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