Leaderboard - by on Monday, October 27, 2008 15:25 - 1 Comment

Leaderboard for week of 10-27-08: Community building

This weeks Leaderboard is all about community building.

Some beat bloggers have built strong communities within the comments sections of their blogs. Others have become a part of a community by providing a level of coverage not seen before. Good beat bloggers are all about two-way communication and community building.

Here is this week’s Leaderboard:

Ed Silverman | Pharmalot

  • Silverman isn’t always the easiest to see innovation from in a single blog post, but when one takes his blog in its entirety, it’s easy to see the strong Web property that Silverman has built.
  • If there was one (daily) blog post that really shows innovation on Silverman’s part, it’s his daily Pharmalot… Pharmalittle link post. Silverman was one of the first mainstream media types to get into link journalism.
  • Every day Silverman links to some of the biggest stories about his beat — the pharmaceutical industry — from other news outlets. I know this sounds heretical, but it works well for Silverman. He has built Pharmalot into the source for daily pharma news. Silverman is a posting machine, often writing about 10 posts a day. He then links to some of the best content from his competitors. It’s the combination of original content and links that allows Silverman to own his beat.
  • Silverman has created a strong network on his blog, where users ask questions, interact with each other and help provide Silverman with tips and resources about pharma. The comments can be just as informative as Silverman’s posts, and they often contain links to valuable resources.

Tawnell Hobbs | The Dallas Morning News

  • Hobbs works on the same beat and blog as Kent Fischer (Leaderboard member from last week). Together they are reinventing local education coverage on the Web.
  • Hobbs and Fischer have provided not only solid journalism during the financial crisis in the Dallas school district, but they have also provided a public service. Hobbs has been posting about job fairs and other opportunities for displaced workers. These posts don’t require a lot of work, but they have meant a lot to readers.
  • One of the benefits to forming a network around your beat is having people help you report your beat. Astute readers noticed that the DISD Web site had a listing of job openings, despite a massive layoff a week before. Hobbs took the information that her readers alerted her to and asked the district to clarify. It turns out the district didn’t expect so many employees to voluntarily retire and resign.
  • This is a story that might not have come to light without the help of readers.

Eric Berger | Houston Chronicle

  • Yes, Berger made the Leaderboard last week, but we have good reason to stick him on the Leaderboard again.
  • Check out the second comment on this post on his blog. Berger regularly responds to user comments. In fact, Berger is one of the best I’ve ever seen at interacting with users.
  • Many beat bloggers tried using Ning to build a social network around their beats. Many of those failed because it was yet another destination for users and yet another Web site to sign up for.
  • It turns out  that a blog itself can be a good social networking tool. Berger’s blog is part of the Houston Chronicle Web site. It’s a main part of his reporting, and it has been a great way for Berger to build a social network. He has done this by interacting with his users in the comments section.
  • Look at how insightful many of the comments that Berger’s users leave. A big reason is that Berger is actively cultivating a community. He hasn’t left a comment ghetto, where people can say whatever they want unchecked. A lot of scientific debate happens in the comments section of his blog.

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About BeatBlogging.org

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
Patrick Thornton is the editor and lead writer of BeatBlogging.Org. He is @pwthornton on Twitter.