The virtuous circle of journalism process

Say a quite word of thanks dear reader to Mr Kevin Anderson. Why? Let me explain.

Yesterday I posted a graphic that tried to sum up some of the problems that still exist as we try and engage with community.

I’d been thinking about it because I’ve been updating content for my Digital newsroom module next semester. One of the things I found was that it was tricky to get the students to buy in to benefit of sharing. They got the power of the web to gather content but I guess you could say that they where still in that gatekeeper mentality.  Sharing photos on Flickr or using twitter was too geeky for them. It didn’t fit the journalistic process.

A phrase that popped in to my head, and I used a lot, was the ‘virtuous circle’. You give and people will give.

This strikes me more and more as a defining element of a journalist who understands how to work online. You only need to look at the debate around plagiarism and the link economy in journalism to see that.

Anyway, I promised a ramble post or two may follow. So in an effort to head one of those off here is a little video I made to try and explain my thinking. I’d love some feedback:


The virtuous circle from Digitaldickinson on Vimeo.

This isn’t original thought by any stretch of the imagination. The virtuous circle is not a new concept and if anyone else is talking in the same tones then I’d love to know. I’m also not trying to make a new ‘model’ here.  I based many of my lectures on Paul Bradshaw’s news diamond and the discussion that generated. All credit to him. The way that model was developed through his blog and the discussion it generated in my lectures is a fine example of that virtuous circle in action.

Yeah, yeah, Video shimdeo. What about Kevin Anderson you ask.

Well, Kevin picked up on my illustration and commented on how a different attitude can reap rewards.  Thanks to his concise example you have a hell of a lot less ramble to sit through.

A few years ago, colleagues asked me why bloggers responded to my interview requests when they had trouble getting a response. The problem was, they were often sending out form e-mail interview requests and treating bloggers, usually ordinary people, as if they were members of government or industry spokespeople. I usually started my search for a blogger through a blog search engine like Technorati. When I found a relevant post, I would quote the post and ask them if they wanted to join a discussion about the topic they had blogged about.

I also use Creative Commons licenced pictures in Guardian blog posts (Attribution licence that allows for commercial use). Unless, I’m really pressed for time, I send the Flickr user a short note and a link. They always thank me for being a good member of the community, and the sometimes even blog about the post. I’ve acted in good faith, and they have reciprocated by flagging up their photo on a Guardian post. We can be good members of both virtual and real world communities, and I think it’s one of the things that can rebuild journalists’ relationship with the people formerly known as the audience. Becoming better citizen journalists might just save professional journalism.

Thanks Kevin.

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