The recent history of journalism in America is full of tectonic shifts, brought on by changes in technology and society. For too long, many of those changes happened outside of newsrooms, but increasingly we are seeing fundamental cultural shifts in news organizations that are changing how, and to sometimes why, journalism is done.
One of those shifts has been the emphasis on community engagement. The media landscape is shifting and becoming more participatory, and our communities want to do more than just read the news. They want to be co-creators, collaborators, distributors and they want to put the news to work, to improve their lives and communities. At the same time, financial challenges have forced news organizations to build new networks of support with their audience and community.
While newsrooms have invested in various forms of community engagement – from mobilizing local bloggers into coordinated networks, to robust social media strategies and community events – there is still a lot we don’t know about how to assess and measure the impact of community engagement. (more…)
In early 2007 I was asked to write a series of blog posts for a youth conservation organization examining the intersection of service, civil rights, and the environment for Martin Luther King Day. In one of those posts I mused about MLK’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech from the 1963 March on Washington. Actually, I mused on the way that MLK was introduced to the crowd gathered there on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. The person who introduced King called him the moral leader of our nation.
When I was writing in early 2007 I commented on how striking this phrase was, because I couldn’t imagine any one person today being called the moral leader of our country. Moral leadership, at least on the national political stage, was all but absent. However, that same week a Senator from Chicago stood on the steps of Illinois’ Old State Capital (where Abraham Lincoln had stood before him) and announced he was running for president of the United States. At the time I didn’t know much about Barack Obama, but now, twenty months later we have all learned volumes about who he is and what he stands for, and I am beginning to hope that moral leadership may be on the rise again. (more…)
I hold onto magazines for a long time. A quick survey of my house will turn up a wealth of magazines from the past two years and even a smattering of periodicals from five or text years ago. It is something I picked up from my mom, who had wicker baskets of magazines tucked into every corner of my house growing up. We have book shelves with vast editions of National Geographic and Newsweek. I think the force of this habit, learned at a young age, has combined with two other facets of my personality to create a nearing hording mentality when it comes to these publications. I can’t read magazines cover to cover, and am constantly skipping around – which leaves me convinced that I have missed some great nugget of writing in-between unturned pages. And I love the magazine as a format. I am fascinated with the making of magazines and their history in things like political pamphlets and small presses.
All of which is a preface to my main point. I was recently flipping through an old Smithsonian magazine (fished out of a wicker basket that used to be in my mom’s house but now occupies a corner of my little apartment) and began reading about Jon Kleinberg’s research on social networks and online communities. (more…)