Uncategorized - by on Friday, February 1, 2008 7:36 - 1 Comment

Katharine Fong: San Jose Mercury News – “How This Can Integrate into the Everyday Work-flow.”

The San Jose Mercury News’ Green Tech beat is almost ready to launch a Ning site of their own. I’ve checked it out and it’s looking very clean (with a light green background) and I think will be easy for people to interact with.

Similarly, Education Week and the Patriot News have Ning sites as well – all three are ready to launch and probably will very soon (one even has a fantastic video introduction which I hope to re-post later).

I wanted to get in touch with Katharine Fong , the deputy managing editor at the San Jose Mercury News to find out how things were shaping up at, especially after their recent executive editor change.

With a drastic change like that in the newsroom it’s completely understandable for everyone to do a quick gut-check. But Matt Nauman and Kathy decided to move ahead with the beat blogging experiment, truly championing a mantra I think all newsrooms should adopt if they want to start a beat blog of their own: It’s cheaper and easier to just start something online than it is to hold all the meetings to decide whether or not to try it.

That’s not to say that people’s attentions are cheap: You don’t want to try an ill-planned experiment that involves readers and loses their faith – that is your bread and butter. But online tools for collaboration are quick and easy to use and cheap. Dirt cheap. Free. You don’t need to have meetings to discuss the cost analytics of beat blogging. If you are having that conversation, stop right now. The conversation you should be having is: Do we know how to do online organizing? That’s what Matt and Kathy have been circling around – which is great. That’s the shift a reporter needs to have in beat blogging.

Still, the change in managment and regular work load has understandably slowed the launch of the green tech social network. But as I have repeated to all the beat blogging editors/reporters – this is not a race and it’s much better to take it slow than rush into something and realize you weren’t prepared.

At this time Katharine and Matt Nauman, the beat reporter are thinking about the overall strategy of the Ning site. Do they give it a mission statement or let it run as it is? Should they start very small and grow organically, or try to push things as wide as possible.

For now, the goal is to seed the network without over-extending Nauman. This will be a difficult balancing act, but it seems that it is an integral part of it: While online organizing can help a reporter – we have to remember that we are still reporters.

That said, Katharine had lots of ideas about how the network can be organized and approached. Once this network launches it will be a live experiment.


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  • donnalyn pompper

    Hello: I wonder if I may have an email address for Katharine Fong? I’d like to talk with her regarding a study I’m working on. Thank you.

    D. Pompper, Associate Professor
    Temple University

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BeatBlogging.org was a grant-funded journalism project that studied how journalists used social media and other Web tools to improve beat reporting. It ran for about two years, ending in the fall of 2009.

New content is occasionally produced here by the this project's former editor Patrick Thornton. The site is still up and will remain so because many journalists and professors still use and link to the content. BeatBlogging.org offers a fascinating glimpse into the former stages of journalism and social media. Today it's expected that journalists and journalism organization use social media, but just a few years ago that wasn't the case.

About the Author of this post
David Cohn is the founder of Spot.Us and former editor of BeatBlogging.Org.