Content Ninja's Weblog

An exploratory journey on the edge of newspaper evolution

Stop talking, start doing March 19, 2008

Action is better than words.

That was the gist of the advice I received Tuesday from David Cohn of NewAssignment.net and editor of Beatblogging. org, one of the experiments I mentioned earlier. We talked by phone about what’s working or not with Beatblogging, various platforms for social media experiments and community building.

Cohn says one of the biggest challenges for the 13 participating reporters is meshing social media — blogs, Twitter, Facebook, etc. — into their regular workflow. They’ve set up their networks but have yet to learn to effectively use them. See his related blog post, on one such struggle for Eliot Van Buskirk of Wired: http://www.beatblogging.org/blog/beat_blogging/index.html 

“Beatbloggers have created a network, but it’s like an ant farm,” Cohn says. It’s “an experiment to look at through the glass.”

He’s not especially worried, though. He figures they’ll find their way. “We’re in a Model T stage. Who knows what will work.”

And newspapers? Can they be “saved”?

“Journalism will find a way to be sustained,” he says, “but that’s not a product. That’s a process. Newspapers might, but they’ll be completely different.”

Cohn notes there’s plenty of room for innovation and that experimental efforts by media companies across the country, from NewAssignment to Gazette Communications, are encouraging.

“I always say it’s cheaper and easier to try something than talk about it,” Cohn says.

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