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Imagining the Newsroom of Tomorrow: ProfNet v2.0


I just got through reading Chuck Peter's post on how the nature of a "story" is changing, against the tidal wave of blog "posts" and Twitter "tweets".

I think that services like ProfNet and Peter Shankman's brilliant Help A Reporter Out (HARO) show us how the dynamics of tomorrow’s newsroom might look.

The challenge, in a world where we will all be challenged to find ways to do more with less, will be to work with librarians and technologists in a way that is harmonious with their existing responsibilities.

Unfortunately, the dynamics of email don’t do that. For example, no librarian wants to sift through another hour’s worth of email, no matter how excited they might be at being part of the local news ecosystem.

I think Twitter shows us a different dynamic: we are able to participate in a plethora of conversations simultaneously; we choose the memes we feel we can make a contribution in; and most importantly, we don’t feel obligated to backtrack and read all of the tweets we might have missed while we were doing other things, like living our lives.

Two years ago I began working with one of McDonald’s marketing agencies on a mobile “group reply” service: instead of calling or emailing lots of people, make a request either through SMS or by making a phone call, which triggers an SMS to a pre-defined list of people, and specify how many responses you want to get back.

“I’m doing a special report on how restaurants are coping with the downturn,” you ask. “I need 5 bloggers to write 250 words on this by 5pm today along with a 450px wide photo.”
The request goes to the dozens of bloggers who are “friends and family”. The system collects the first 5 responses who can make the deadline, and lets you know that your request is completed along with a list of who responded.

The guys that responded get instructions on what to do next. The 6th and 7th responses, etc., are notified that the project is filled and to move along. The job is automatically published as RSS so one could build an eventstream by reporter, by beat, by newspaper, etc.

If you think I’m full of salami, that’s okay. But, if you think there’s something there, I want to hear from you. I’ve entered this in the Knight Ridder News Challenge Garage, and I’d love to get your feedback.



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