As a pro blogger, I end up doing a wide variety of contract writing jobs, some creative and some journalistic in nature. This has led me into a lot of direct contact with reporters, writers and producers in a vast array of media.
One thing that seems to be a constant in the modern day is that many journalists I’ve met find story ideas or interview subjects through online efforts, predominantly ones using social media. Here in New Orleans, I have repeatedly seen stories broken or examined by local bloggers only to be picked up subsequently by mainstream media later on.
National Public Radio (NPR), which seems to always be at the forefront of radio’s symbiotic evolution with the Internet, have been one of the first to really comment on this publicly. Frank Langfitt, NPR’s Labor/Workplace Correspondent, has discovered the collaborative power of social media and in true Web 2.0 fashion has blogged about it. You see, it all started with a Web Chat [archived here] about the possible bailout for the Detroit-based auto industry:
Not only was the chat interesting, but we got over 100 comments. Many of the comments were from people who either had connections to the auto business or actually worked in the industry. (Nothing like talking to people who actually know what you’re trying to report on.) :-) So after we did the Web chat, I began contacting some of the people who had commented.
Within a day, I was able to put together a radio story entirely based on sources from the Web chat. These were terrific sources with lots of knowledge whom I would have never been able to find by old reporting methods, like calling around. I also read some of the comments on All Things Considered and Talk of the Nation.
Crowdsourcing and social networking in action. The non linear approach certainly seems to produce a wider variety of results than the old fashioned way, i.e., calling around, etc. Couple that with the ubiquity and reach of radio and a compelling picture emerges. Using the social media tools available online to research and produce content which is then shared across the digital divide using the power of broadcast is a fantastic example of the direction in which our medium is growing.
For those who take the time to learn, the tools available the Internet provide a content producer’s dream.