News Leadership 3.0

October 02, 2008

ReportingOn: New tool for journalists

Web site aims to connect reporters
to others with expertise, experience

Ryan Sholin is up an running with ReportingOn, a place where reporters can get together online to pool expertise.

Here’s the intro:

“Welcome to the backchannel for your beat.

“ReportingOn helps journalists of all stripes find peers with experience dealing with a particular topic, story, or source.

“Everyone’s welcome. Are you a reporter at a major metro newspaper? An editor at a small community newspaper? A blogger working a story about local politics? A cable news anchor looking for national trends bubbling to the surface?

“It’s a simple question: What are you Reporting On?”

As reporters find less time to go deep, ReportingOn aims to put in place a network that will help them find information and learn from others. Less re-inventing of the wheel. It’s a great idea and I hope editors will encourage their reporters to jump on board and help Sholin refine and grow this resource.

I signed up this morning in about four seconds and entered my reporting topic for this blog:
What are you reporting on?
Ways to make newsroom culture more receptive to change, more innovative, more ready to embrace opportunities of the Web.

Anyone working on a journalism project can post a message of up to 140 words (same as on Twitter). Each query can be tagged with multiple topics (mine were “Innovation,” “Culture,” and “Newsroom.”) Users can search tags to find queries and responses of interest to them.

So far, the site boasts more than 70 journalists registered with more than 40 updates. As those numbers grow, the usefulness of the site promises to grow as well. Users must register with an e-mail address and create profiles.

I did a quick review of the posts this morning and found the usual mix of serious items (mostly) and online clutter-talk. Here are some examples of reporting queries and their tags:

“I’m compiling a list of the most innovative beat reporters in the world.” Tags: beat_blogging
“The problem of our electronic waste being shipped overseas to places like India where it’s harvested by impoverished towns.’’ Tags: business columnist silicon valley
“a decomposing head found on a hiking trail, murder suspects in court and the police getting a zippy new Segway-on-steroids vehicles.” Tags: courts crime
“Cambodian secretary of state returns from the UN Assembly in New York, and giving up my weekend to cover a French-Cambo military exercise.” Tags: borders Cambodia military
“New tools for journalists and newsrooms.” Tags: journalism
“Journerdism: Prepping for the VP showdown in our backyard at Washignton University.” Tags: politics
“Tuition predictability plans at public universities.” Tags: education higher

One thing that may hold journalists back is fear that competitors will take their stories. Here’s what Sholin says about fears of giving too much away on ReportingOn:

“You’re still worried about the paper across town? OK, no problem, just don’t included much specific information in your updates.  But really, ReportingOn is probably going to work much better if you’re writing an investigative/enterprise story or a feature.  I’m not sure how well it’s going to work for breaking news, unless you’re just looking for a source or some help making sense out of freshly released data.”

ReportingOn is funded by the Knight News Challenge. Here is Knight’s description of the project. (Note: I work as a consultant for the Knight Foundation on a separate project.) Sholin’s day job is director of community site publishing at GateHouse Media. Sholin blogs at Invisible Inkling and you’ll find him on Twitter at ryansholin.

Here’s a Q&A from July by Sholin. He hopes to post on “What’s Next” later today and I will update this post with a link.

Like much on the Web, ReportingOn puts the tools out there. As Sholin notes, it’s a 1.0 version right now, an experiment, an incomplete application. So users have an opportunity to decide how it will work and what will make it most effective for them. Have at.

 

 

 

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Exploring innovation, transformation and leadership in a new ecosystem of news, by journalist and change advocate Michele McLellan.

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