Moderator JD Lasica talks with Rob Curley, Dan Gillmor and Jay Rosen (not pictured) about online communities. (Photo by Aaron Roberts)
Thursday's workshop "Becoming a Community Evangelist" promised attendees would learn how to harness the passion and creativity of their communities to become local sensations and meaningful gathering places.
Dan Gillmor, director of the Center for Citizen Media, immediately disputed the notion that big media should be "harnessing" the talents of the community for their own gain. "We are people who want to have a conversation," said Gillmor. Gillmor suggested journalists explore non-journalistic online communities to learn the means through which those communities develop.
Jay Rosen, a professor at New York University, author of PressThink and creator of Newassignment.net, discussed Slashdot's groundbreaking experiment in open source journalism and possible ways to compile the diverse voices of a community into a news report. Rosen plans to explore beat reporting with social networking as a way to bring networks of knowledgeable people together.
In the effort to build a serious local news site, Rob Curley of Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive said, "We wanted to show people we are engaged and then ask them to help us." Instead of waiting for users to come to them, online news sites must create the desire and capability for users to share their content through other publishing tools. This integration only comes after building credibility with the community, Curley said.
Panelists agreed that an important component of building a community Web site is becoming a comprehensive portal by linking to other sources. "It doesn't serve your readers to keep them all in one domain," said Rosen.
-- Emily Hanlon