One of the enviable things about working for Google is the 20% policy the company gives its engineers. It basically says they should devote part of each week to work on what they’re most passionate about.
While we don’t see the “failure” produced during that time, we do know that successes such as Gmail, Google News and AdSense were developed with it.
Does this translate to the newsroom?
While not quite the same, Espen Egil Hansen, editor-in-chief of Norway’s VG Multimedia, told those at this weekend’s International Symposium on Online Journalism that he expects his journalists to spend 10 percent of their time engaging readers.
The move is smart. Instead of relying on a dedicated community manager or a few self-motivaters to engage across social networks, VG bakes the activity into its overall culture. While not solely responsible for the results, the fact remains that 87% of Norwegians visited the site in February.
These readers also help improve the paper’s quality.
VG has tools that let readers have at typos. In 2010, 17,000 were corrected.
No news on what the site’s copyeditors had to say about that.
Thanks so much for your feedback. It’s very much appreciated.
In the conversation I created using quotes from Robert Niles’ and Kevin Anderson’s articles they were more or less referring to building great conversations around the content journalists are producing. In particular, they were focussing on comment sections.
For example, if your style is take no prisoners, firebomb opinion writing, your comments are going to devolve into flamewares. Similarly, if you don’t occasionally prod commenters with an encouragement stick, conversations will go astray. Simply, conversations need some coordination and leadership.
Unfortunately, while many publications now employ “community managers,” the role is often passive moderation of inappropriate content. Less often do the journalists themselves participate extensively in the conversations. The reasons are many, chief among them is that they have other work to do like reporting their next story.
While this is the particulars of what they wrote about, I think it extends to other places conversations take place, eg., Twitter and Facebook.
While I don’t think organizations — as a generality — are doing that great of a job engaging across those networks, I do think a lot of individual journalists are doing a wonderful job, the most prominent among them probably being Nicholas Kristof and the communities he’s developed on Facebook, Twitter and his blog.
I spoke with GigaOm’s Matthew Ingram recently. He also does a great job engaging his audience and does so primarily — though not exclusively — through Twitter. When I asked why there, his answer was rather simple: that’s where the conversation is actually taking place.
Hope these thoughts somewhat answer your question. We look forward to hearing from you and others again. — Michael