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Can a beat reporter profit from exposing his network?


I think I stepped out of reporting at the wrong time.
New York journalism prof and new media journalism evangelist Jay Rosen
(Assignment Zero, The People Formerly Known As the Audience etc.) is
launching the third major project of the NewAssignment.Net initiative.

He’s trying to integrate social networks and beat reporting:

Beat Reporting With a Social Network: Can it Work?

there network effects in beat reporting? Across the US, a dozen
reporters (with beats) are going to try to find out—simultaneously.
This will improve their odds of succeeding. I’m still recruiting
participants, so read on…

the rest of this pretty interesting and challenging idea can be found at his blog, PressThink
Rosen’s group will hook together 12 reporters, (he says he’s got 7 or 8
and is looking for a few more) each of whom is going to be using a
web-based social network to stimulate and co-ordinate story creation
and beat coverage.
I’ve been a big advocate of beat blogs as a way of accomplishing the
same idea and so view the idea of bringing that beats network of
contacts right into the (open) process of story creation and research
with some excitement.
And also some trepidation.

My experience with beat blogs tells me that the key players on your
beat – or at least many of them – will be very reluctant to step into
the fray publicly. They just have too much to lose. A good contact will
offer perspective, tips, direction and the odd scoop – but that’s
usually all about influencing the "news" through the reporter, a
process that offers the contact a layer of insulation and thus safety.
Dragging those contacts out into the open, into a social network seems
doomed to failure. Unless… hmm… does Rosen say anywhere that these
social networks have to be open? or public? Hmm. This might be very
interesting to watch.

Bill Dunphy

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