Robert Putnam's theories about the formation of social capital are foundational to much of what I've been focusing on for the last several years, especially the 2005 launch of BlufftonToday.com. Blogging for the Readership Institute at Northwestern University, Rich Gordon describes troubling new findings in Putnam's latest research, and declares:
Neil Thurman of City University, London, has published a review of the ways British news media are using the tools of interactivity -- "user generated content initiatives," as he calls it. In many cases it's been a struggle and the outcomes have not met everyone's hopes.
Reading through it, I was struck by a recurring theme in his interviews with UK journalism executives. It goes like this: How can I add some of this user-generated filler to my soup without losing control of the flavor?
Jonathan Dube points out that the Washington Post, CBS News and Newsweek all have added comment capabilities to story pages. I don't think comments are the best way to build community, comments are infinitely better than no conversation at all. We've come quite a way from the days when editors would look at you and say, in all seriousness: "You mean you let them say anything they want?"
At the Online Journalism Association conference in Washington earlier this month, I heard several people say too many newspapers are grasping at video and because it looks like the easy path to multimedia. Now comes Paul Bradshaw in the UK, blogging the same point of view.