In the tenth chapter of Mark Briggs’ book we learn that news has become a conversation and the biggest challenges facing journalists is how to manage and leverage the conversation. Many journalists are now coming around to the idea that managing online communities and participating in social networks are the future of journalism.
Comments on news stories and blogs have grown into social networking tools where journalists interact with each other. The primary motivation for social tools on media sites is to stay technologically relevant and to build strong relationships with an audience.
Mandy Jenkins has held community management and social media positions for several news organizations offers the “rules of engagement.” She says that we should answer all questions asked by our readers. The second rule is to address criticism professionally and respectfully. Third rule of engagement is to respond, publicly or privately to your readers. Fourth rule is to share good responses from comments. The final two rules are to publicly correct oneself and always acknowledge news tips.
Generating an interactive community has tremendous value for a journalist. Readers can share links to other stories that relate to your subject. Dan Gillmor was the first newspaper reporter to have his own blog, and he said his readers knew more than him. It’s important to remember that your communities know more than you do, engaging your readers will lead to better journalism.
Journalists must get involved and make more of an effort to make news participatory. Multimedia elements like photos and videos need to be incorporated. When you are fighting for an audience, making news participatory is an important strategy to create brand trust. Online social networks make it possible to “build extended networks, search for story ideas, build contacts and dig up information.”
Journalists need to collaborate with their communities, in the digital era the audience increasingly provides the “what,” while the journalist provides the “why,” and “how.”