Dan Schultz, blogging over at MediaShift Idea Lab (http://www.pbs.org/idealab/2008/03/medias-new-community-role.html), makes a good argument that most newspapers haven’t taken the digital revolution far enough.
“What people are realizing now is that it also isn’t enough to simply enable comments, publish the occasional user-submitted-photo or blog, or incorporate a few pieces of interactive content. All of these things are small steps in the right direction, but small steps are slow and costly in the world of software,” he writes.
As we’ve been discussing here, the key is building a digital community. Schultz suggests that journalists take up agenda facilitation instead of agenda-setting.
“I’m suggesting that local news sites facilitate ‘bottom up’ agenda. The individuals (the bottom) can suggest issues and those issues may be picked up, prompting natural investigative attention and a swarm response,” he says.
Are you gagging? “Where’s the journalism?” you ask.
“Communities still need the people who find the stories that have fallen under the radar, spend weeks researching the details, and double check the facts,” he says. His argument falls apart, I think, as he continues: “Paid professionals would still report on new issues to see if their community takes interest, but now the digital version of the physical community they serve can act as a living breathing tip-line.”
If the digital community is nothing more than a tip line and the journalist is still the center of the universe, we haven’t pushed the bubble far enough.