Old Media Opening Up?

The traditional media are notorious for their resistance to change. We are especially challenged by the Net’s multi-faceted nature, and in particular its many-to-many communications capabilities. Traditional journalism is a lecture. The Net is a conversation.

Many of us have discussion forums on our Web sites, which are useful beginnings into a more conversational style of journalism. One place that does this well, by dint of its international readership, is the “Gray Lady,” aka the New York Times. Its ambitious Web site — one of the best, IMO — includes discussion groups where readers argue about major topics selected by the Times online editors.

But a more interesting, if largely unknown, part of the Times’ online services is Abuzz, a question-and-answer site, where the general public asks and answers the questions. The staff’s editorial function is to keep things running smoothly, as far as I can tell.

Now, this kind of thing isn’t new. Other sites do it just as well if not better. And you tend to find the best answers in a given topic by going to topic-specific sites.

Still, I’m glad that the august New York Times has seen fit to do this. “All the News That’s Fit to Print” no longer fits into the pages of the newspaper, as the Times has learned. It doesn’t even fit on the official NYT Web site. Maybe there’s a lesson there for all of us.


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