They’re brand new, and they sound so cool! I was looking forward to checking out this bold new experiment in participatory editorials.
I just received the following e-mail from a friend and colleague who works as an editor for a major public radio news program. He writes:
“No, this isn’t one of those ancient e-mails that have been floating around the Internet for the past decade.
This week (as soon as Wednesday, June 22, 2005) Congress will be voting on a 45% cut to funding for PBS and NPR. This is the most serious threat to public broadcasting since Newt Gingrich tried to zero out funding in 1995. Such a cut would be felt throughout the system and would hurt the small and rural stations the most.
You can learn more about what Congress is up to, and what you can do to express your opinion on the matter, by going to www.wgbh.org/takeaction.
A phone call or e-mail to your representative would be a great help. Time is of the essence.”
Over the last few months I’ve become intrigued by the emerging field of citizen journalism (citJ, for short): news, features, analysis, and commentary produced and published by people including some bloggers who are not hired by news organizations.
I’m drawn to this field because I’ve grown to realize that traditional versions of news, journalism, and journalists are no longer enough. The cult of officialdom has reached its limits. There is more than one way to gauge relevance and credibility. We need more kinds of news, from more kinds of sources, to adequately serve the information needs of our communities and the world.
After spending months watching this field sprout, I’m finally ready to dive in and help it blossom. My longtime friend and colleague, A. Adam Glenn (who recently left his Senior Producer position at ABC News.com to broaden his media horizons) will be my teammate on this exploration.
Fortuitously, last Thursday I was interviewed by Randy Dominga of the Christian Science Monitor on the topic of citJ.
UPDATE: The Monitor article which mentions me (in the lead) is now online! See: Write the news yourself! Great headline, and great article. Read more about that coverage, and the associated blogosphere buzz. Thanks, Randy Dotinga!
So what exactly are Adam and I up to on this front?…
Just a quick note here. Yesterday, I got publicly flamed, at amazing length and involving many personal attacks and professional defamation, by a blogger whose writing apparently appeals largely to the Beavis-and-Butthead crowd. (I’m not knocking that, it’s a valid niche audience.)
I found his tirade amusing when I first saw it. 24 hours and one firestorm later, it’s grown tedious. It’s all about ego, posturing, and defensiveness. It’s even included some threats.
I’m only mentioning this to you because some of this blogger’s friends are spreading this ridiculous mess to their own blogs, and also trying to bring it here via comments to this blog. No dice, folks…
Lately there’s been a fair amount of discussion in the blogosphere on this perennial issue: Is it better for online publishers to offer their complete content (full text) via feed, or just headlines and summaries.
Personally, I strongly prefer summary feeds but that’s just me.
In my humble opinion, this dispute largely boils down to a matter of taste from the audience’s perspective. That is, whether it’s better for you to subscribe to full-text or summary feeds in your feed reader is entirely up to you! Choose whichever suits your feed-reading habits, tools, and tastes and don’t let anyone bully you. If you’re not sure which you prefer (if either), then experiment. You’re not required to make an across-the-board commitment.
That said… From the feed publisher’s perspective, I think it’s best to offer both full-text and summary versions of your feed. However, if you must choose only one content format for your feed, I suggest that for now, it’s more important to offer a summary feed.
Here’s why I say that, plus a conversation which demonstrates why some folks disagree with my advice…
(Background: What’s a feed?)
I just heard about a cool new blogging tool that sounds ideal for people who want to blog but need that process to be as simple, efficient, intuitive, and flexible as possible. And even better, it’s permanently free of charge.
Check out Qumana. It seems to offer all the core features a serious blogger would want, using a simple non-geeky interface.
From my perspective, it only has one major drawback…
(NOTE: This posting is part of a series on content strategy. You may want to start reading from the introduction.)
“Content” is what you have to say, however you say it: text, pictures, audio, video, spoken word, math, sign language, smoke signals, Morse code, cuneiform, music, body language, etc.
Whenever we communicate whether with the whole world, a specific audience, a closed group, or just with ourselves we rely on content to convey our message. It’s how we package our thoughts and observations.
In turn, content is wrapped in context which is only partly determined by your intention behind the message you’re sending. This means that ultimately you have surprisingly limited influence over the meaning someone receives from your content.
This makes trying to accomplish goals, connect with others, and express yourself a tricky business…
I am surprised and pleased that my first post on this topic yesterday received such a thoughtful and diverse response. Thanks to everyone who read and commented on that article for making me think harder.
I realize that blogs (or any type of media) are not one-size-fits-all. There is, after all, a reason why my title for yesterday’s article included the word “usually.” My goal was not to say daily blogging or heavy reliance on the link-only posting format are always counterproductive for every blog.
That said, I honestly do believe that in most cases these practices tend to harm the overall appeal, quality, and usefulness of the blogosphere. Worse, they just tend to make the act of blogging much less fun.
Time to explode an unfortunate bit of “conventional wisdom.” I’ve heard and read many people’s perspectives on how to do blogging right. There are about as many views on this as people expressing them. However, one common theme I hear mindlessly repeated is that it’s important to blog daily if not several times daily.
For most blogs and most bloggers, I think a daily posting schedule is counterproductive. Here’s why…
(UPDATE: On June 13 I published further thoughts on this topic…)
I love the blogosphere, it can be so incredibly helpful and cooperative.
A few days ago, I asked my readers for help getting an English translation of an article about me which ran recently in the Danish publication eJour. Very quickly, Danish journalist Lars Michael Sorensen was kind enough to provide me with a rough translation…