I know, I know. I’m supposed to be taking a rest from blogging. Well, it’s getting close to term time again (I had that in my mind as a time to revist the blog) and with a bit of space behind me to clear my head I wanted to dip in – sorry.
What’s peaked my interest. Well, Ryan Sholin threw up an interesting link via twitter to a site called myreporter.com which recently picked up a Citizen Media Award in the Knight-Batten Awards for Innovations in Journalism
It’s a simple idea.
MyReporter.com provides a personal link between the journalist and the reader, allowing the reader to submit a question about life in southeastern North Carolina. Within a week, a StarNews journalist will provide an answer on www.MyReporter.com, where readers can find a wealth of information about historical places, famous people and oddities in the area.
Add to that the ability of people to comment, or add clarification and detail to answers and you can see how the vision that that Executive Editor Robyn Tomlin has that ” at some point this becomes a living encyclopedia of local information,”
Ryan also highlighted another one, wonderfully titled questionland from Seattle paper The Stranger.
What’s so great about that, you ask. Why not just put the question in to google? Surely that will get you the answer.
Well, yes, maybe it will. But in a world where people are time poor, local newspapers still have some brand to work with and Google’s inability t really do local search (not without some strong arming of search terms) this seems to me to really reflect the local newspaper being the ‘source of local information’.
It’s one example of the connection with the community local journalism is supposed to have and I think it would be fantastically easy to implement it on any local news site. Myreporter.com is built on WordPress – easy to hack together – and questionland runs on a third party Q&A platform called yousaidit. But there are other sources. Ryan Sholin points out that the source code for his nascent reporting back channel service ReportingOn (a knight news challnge winner) is available as open source.
I know that the first reason why a site like this wouldn’t happen on many UK papers is resources. Who answers the questions? But as something that falls between the crowdsourcsing of reporting and the often one way input of comments, this could be an interesting way for people to move questions and conversation out of the ghetto of forums and make it more accessible and obvious.
Have you come across any other sites that are doing this? Are you running a site just like this. I’d love to know.