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Why journalists don't make ideal online community leaders

Submitted by yelvington on October 2, 2007 - 6:12pm

Writing for, Robert Niles argues: “There's no need for professional reporters to fear user-generated content. Someone needs to lead the Web's content communities, and journalists make the ideal candidates.”

While I agree wholeheartedly that newspaper journalists should engage as leaders in the community conversation, I think it would be a mistake to overlook the shortcomings and handicaps we inherit from our past.

So here’s a counterpoint to Niles’ essay.

Don't blame the Internet, or the owners

Submitted by yelvington on September 28, 2007 - 2:10pm

On the day of 60 "early retirements" from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, columnist Bill McClellan feels like a dinosaur witnessing the end of his era, and he points to two meteoric events. One is the arrival of the Internet. The other is corporate ownership.

That's probably a popular viewpoint in most newsrooms these days. And there is some truth to it. But in the big picture it's wrong.

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It's not about technology, but it is

Submitted by yelvington on September 27, 2007 - 11:27am

I've been repeating myself a lot lately: "It's not about technology. It's not about technology." Nevertheless, I find myself being drawn back into the technology frequently, and last week I spent a day at the Barcelona Drupalcon, surrounded by a bunch of really smart guys (mostly guys, anyway) half my age.

I was "in the neighborhood" because BDZV, the German federation of newspaper publishers, had asked me to speak at an annual meeting. I hopped a cheap flight to BCN and slipped in a day at the four-day Drupal conference.

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The world in the palm of your hand

Submitted by yelvington on August 31, 2007 - 12:33pm

For the last couple of days I've been playing with my latest tech toy, the Nokia "please don't call it a phone" N800.

This and similar devices, including the iPhone, have world-changing implications for newsgathering as well as publishing and distribution.

I'll get to those points shortly, but first a few words about why I went with the N800.

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When commentary doesn't illuminate

Submitted by yelvington on August 21, 2007 - 7:59am

In an op-ed for the big paper on the left coast, journalism professor Michael Skube complains that "the blogosphere is the loudest corner of the Internet, noisy with disputation, manifesto-like postings and an unbecoming hatred of enemies real and imagined."

"One gets the uneasy sense that the blogosphere is a potpourri of opinion and little more," he writes.

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