"Karma plays a role, man"
Today's NYT business section has an article about how not-for-profit media -- think craigslist or Chowhound -- are nightmares for businesses tring to make money for the same services. It's well worth a read. (The headline above is the last line in the piece).
I'd like to encourage some further thinking about this, specifically from our perspective on the news and content side of the equation. The reporting and other services we offer are valuable and will continue to be, but we're in danger of being left behind and consequently marginalized if we fail to repond to the growing bottom-up, peer-to-peer movement that animates so many of these alternative services.
There are lots of applications. I'm thinking today specifically about hyperlocal community news. And I'm thinking about ways to have your readers provide it for you (and for one another).
We need to learn how to do this. I'm sure there are many ways to approach it; here's one:
Why doesn't somebody assign a copy editor work as liason with readers who want to write about what matters to them, and then set aside a few columns or half-a-page to publish the results on a regular basis?
I'd tell the editor to worry about libel, taste and basic readability -- but not at all about subject or tone. Letting readers tell us what matters to them -- what they think is worth covering -- is at the heart of this experiment. Letting their voices show through is essential.
You could obviously run as many of these contributions as you wanted online, where space is no premium. You'd want to pick the best of them for publication. I'm certain that publishing some would encourage many more contributions, which would make for a stronger pool from which to select the next round for publication.
Properly framed, labeled and promoted, this could become an important connection with readers, talking about what mattered to them, and doing it in their own voices.
Anybody want to talk about trying this? I'm available.