Trying to figure it out in Greensboro
In Greensboro, N.C., the News and Record and editor John Robinson are trying to figure out what this community/open-source/citizen/call-it-what-you-want journalism means. Robinson is pushing to open the debate -- and the newspaper -- to a wider audience along the journalism-as-conversation, not lecture, model.
Jay Rosen of PressThink has been covering it heavily. His latest is here.
Ed Cone, a Greensboro journalist and blogger who writes a column for the paper, but it not employed by it, has been in the thick of things. (Cone's 2004 financial report from his blog -- he reported almost 300,000 page views for the year, is funny, and enlightening.)
Check out also Greensboro101, a hub that aggregates posts by bloggers around the Greensboro area and allows others to post comments.
Rosen's lament: "Why aren't more people who think citizen's media important willing to advise a newspaper company that is willing to gamble its site on a citizens media strategy?
Unfortunately, I think we're learning that the "if you build it, they will come" idea has a way to go. Most people -- I'll go out on a limb here -- still are not by and large active information seekers but are more used to its being delivered to them. It's going to take a while -- and an appliance that makes all of this a lot easier. We get paid to play with this stuff and think about it, but other people have many more pressing concerns and less time to seek.
But I also don't think Greensboro is unique. It would be interesting to see if local blogging "cultures" exist in most cities -- I think they do -- and how they can be tapped to provide a richer and fuller portrait of the places we live. (An ad on Cone's site suggests that a similar operation in Portland, Ore., is in trouble).
It's great to watch this play out.