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Link journalism — ur doin’ it right.

January 13, 2009

Since Josh Korr (Publishing 2.0) and Judith Townend ( basically said everything that needed to be said about the link journalism project I was involved in last week, I’m going to cherry-pick their posts for things I’d like to expand upon.

First, though, a quick reminder of what happened: As we braced for heavy rains and big floods last week in Western Washington, Elaine Helm of the Everett Herald and I sought to popularize a Twitter hashtag for the news coverage (#waflood). Angela Dice of the Kitsap Sun and Brianne Pruitt of the Wenatchee World also jumped on board and a little while later, I started tagging stories as “waflood” in Publish2 — a sort of Delicious for journalists that offers an embeddable widget for displaying links under a common tag. All of us work for different media companies, which seems to be the most talked about tidbit from this whole thing.

Those of us involved in this project have started talking about where to go from here. You can talk with us, too, under the Twitter hashtag #wanews.

On with what I’ve still got to say. First, from Josh’s post:

• “First, you can tell by the Twitter timestamps how quickly everything came together.”
Yes. Yet another reason why every journalist should have a Twitter account.

• “Second, with a link newswire fed by multiple news organizations, there’s a danger that everyone might add only their own stories to the mix. But this group added outside sources as well …”

The old mentality of being hostile toward your competition or ignoring them has got to go. By all means, be competitive, but understand that essentially, you’re all trying to do the same thing. It also doesn’t hurt to remember that the business is mostly tanking and if there were ever a time for teamwork, it’s now.

• “They even emphasized the collaboration in the widget descriptions: Kitsap Sun’s says ‘Stories are chosen by news reporters and editors from Washington news organizations,’ while the Herald’s says ‘Below are news stories that journalists around the state have selected to post using a service called Publish2.'”
This is something I should’ve done and didn’t. If we collaborate in the future — and I think and hope we will — I will.

• “…today readers rightly come first. As Seth [Long, my boss] said, ‘My perspective is that our job is to serve our communities as best we can.'”
Couldn’t have said it better myself, and I think it’s telling that the story with the aggregate widget was among our top 10 read stories network-wide. I looked at our coverage at one point last week and thought, “Awesome — this is exactly what I’d want if I were looking for flood coverage.”

• “As for money, when the technology is free all you need to invest in is smart journalists. Here’s what Paul had to say Wednesday: ‘I think it’s worth pointing out that everything we did today cost us $0.'”
This is one of the reasons I just don’t understand some journalists’ downright contempt of the Internet — there are ways to save your business and produce great journalism at the same time — and they’re free!

Now onto some thoughts after reading Judith’s post:

• “ had seen earlier success from using Publish2 for coverage on a snowstorm, when director of new media at Sound Publishing, Seth Long, collaborated with Angela Dice, new media editor at another competitor, the Kitsap Sun.”
Perhaps I’m burying this a bit deep, but it should be noted that Angela and Seth were the first ones to do this. Brianne, Elaine and I are the Buzz Aldrins.

• “‘We got a ton of traffic from it. I figured, why not do it again?’ said Balcerak.”
That’s in reference to Seth and Angela’s snowstorm project. And yes, we did very well with both stories. I don’t know if I’m allowed to give away specific data (this is a personal blog, outside of work) but I can say that we were well above average. It’s worth mentioning.

This is from her raw blog post:

• Part of the appeal of Publish2 “might be that it’s sort of this ‘Delicious for Journalists,’ which appeals to those who are hesitant to embrace ‘citizen journalism,’ or whatever we’re calling it. It’s more exclusive.”
I’ve made a post or two with regard to “reaching across the aisle” in effect — that is, being patient as a new media journalist with traditional types who bluster at the thought of posting a breaking news story without having seven copy editors check it first. Publish2 might be a good place to get some of those folks started on the Web since, as a more journalist-exclusive club (though not entirely), it may appear less threatening.

• [On ways Publish2 could improve its services]: “If the Publish2 people ‘Who Make Things Happen’ could get it listed in Shareaholic or ShareThis, that might make it a little more convenient.”
I should note that Josh e-mailed me the other day to let me know that Publish2 has a tool that allows you to pipe your links into Delicious and/or Twitter. Still haven’t activated it (been a crazy week) but I will.

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