Posts Tagged ‘internal social networks’

News orgs should look to government for innovation

Tuesday, September 22, 2009 17:06 - by

I never thought I’d say this, but we need to look at some of the innovative things that government is doing.

In a recent post for, I looked at NASA’s internal employee social network, Spacebook. The core behind the idea is to create a more collaborative culture at NASA. And why not?

The Web has made collaboration easier than ever before and that’s what Spacebook is hoping to tap into:

The network allows NASA’s estimated 18,000 employees, regardless of where they’re stationed in the world, to interact and collaborate.

The site gives employees the ability to change their status on their profile pages, share files, friend other NASA employees, follow their friends’ activities a la the Facebook news feed, join groups that interest them and more.

Spacebook asks users to list their areas of expertise, which NASA is hoping will make it easier for employees to find colleagues when they need to collaborate or ask questions. Linda Cureton, chief information officer at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, told the blog Space Marauder that Spacebook is an asset to NASA in this down economy:

” ‘With the constraints we’ve had in hiring and our workforce issues, you want to know who knows what, such as experts on batteries or encryption,’ Cureton said. ‘There may be certain skills, abilities and talents that exist throughout the center, and you want to be able to tap into that knowledge to know areas of expertise of people.’ “

So while, yes, as a former government employee, I’m a bit stunned to say that news organizations should be looking to government for innovation, I’d dare say there is more innovation going on in government right now than at traditional media outlets.

Now a site like Spacebook may be overkill for smaller news organizations, but I can see it helping out larger companies that have multiple offices and bureaus. What about a company like Tribune? Couldn’t an internal social network help get people from different newspapers together on company-wide innovation efforts?

Why not? Tribune needs it.

About 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. 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.