Just don't spoil my soup

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?

You can, of course, if you're willing to do the work. But it may come at a cost. As you continue to produce the same old soup, somebody else may be inventing a whole new cuisine next door in a new kind of process where authority and power are broadly shared, and you're not even part of it.

That's exactly what's been happening to the newspaper business, of course. In our efforts to maintain traditions and protect old brands we've missed opportunity after opportunity.