Interesting post by Mark Glaser that does a really thorough job of summing up the challenges the major media outlets are facing as they “get the religion of audience participation.” The central question is:

How do you harness the audience’s knowledge and participation without
the forums devolving into a messy online brawl that requires
time-intensive moderation?

The good news here, as Glaser points out, is that we are finally past the point where people are arguing whether the audience voice should be heard. Most of the major newspapers’ online sites have growing points of participation for readers. The contention now is how to moderate all of those comments and which ones to highlight in “eye catching editorial spaces” presumably to drive more conversation. There seem to be a number of options shaping up, from reader recommendations a la Digg to paid employee moderators to filters that search for certain words. Some, like Business Week, are also motivating people to leave quality comments by offering them special incentives, such as an end of the year dinner with editors on the staff. And, of course, there is also the question of allowing anonymous comments at all. Fascinating read.

All of which once again makes me think of my days as a journalism student in college and how totally different life for a journalist is these days. And, it harkens back to what Dan Gillmor said many moons ago now, that “my readers know more than I do.” (I love showing this example of a USA Today article where the featured interviewee shows up in the comments section to set the story straight.) And it also makes me think about how we have to prepare our kids for this more participatory culture that we’re moving into.

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