Monday, June 14, 2010

Reporters must think outside the box

At today’s Reynolds Institute session entitled “The Future of News,” Milton Coleman, senior editor for The Washington Post (pictured at left) said, “You can no longer have the Noah’s Ark Theory.” He referred to what he calls two of this and two of that, in which reporters from different papers used to cover the same story with similar angles for their individual communities. Now that readers find themselves with the option of easily connecting with several news sources in various mediums, finding that unique story to capture readers' attention remains one of the biggest challenges. “I think one thing we’ll see - we won’t have a lot of room for duplication,” Coleman said.

Coleman shared ways that The Washington Post has diversified – from sharing content with other newspapers to including readers as news contributors. “What also is becoming more common is what we call user-generated content,” Coleman said. While reporters must be careful to check these sources for reliability and accuracy, Coleman shared that there's also the potential of going much, much deeper on neighborhood stories.

In Sacramento, I’ve seen our local ABC affiliate News 10 use this strategy a lot recently. Each night they share a few viewer reactions to stories and often when reporting a story, they make sure to preface the broadcast by letting the audience know the story idea came from a local viewer.

While we’ve hosted a few guest writers (students and teachers) and printed a fairly regular ASB column in our school newspaper, we haven’t played around much with user-generated content or even considered shared content. I’m curious to learn what other schools have tried and how successful it’s been.

Coleman said, “The news process is richer than ever.” I agree. For us as advisers, the challenge before us is how to make the most of the tools available to us and the Reynold's Institute is the perfect place to learn just that. Today’s sessions provided some great ideas that I look forward to sharing with my editors.

Lisa Edmisten
Woodcreek High School
Roseville, Calif.

1 comment:

  1. Nice photo, Lisa. Shows the speaker at peak action because it emphasizes the back and forth with the audience.

    Steve Elliott
    Arizona State University