The 100 Percent Solution: For Innovation in News

Oct.
21
“It starts with a vision: what if we could cover all of it? When you try to act on that vision, you invariably run into problems. And it’s sweating those problems that leads to innovation, or at least to new knowledge.”

Here’s a little idea for creating innovation in news coverage: the 100 percent solution. It works like this: First, you set a goal to cover 100 percent of… well, of something. In trying to reach the goal you immediately run into problems. To solve those problems you often have to improvise or innovate. And that’s the payoff, even if you don’t meet your goal.

Got it? Good. For that’s the whole idea.

In the rest of this post I will explain what I mean and why I think it can work. And I will give you some examples. Because the 100 percent solution is not an entirely new idea. It’s been tried. My aim is to get more of you to try it in some form.

So let’s start with a few imaginary cases

There’s going to be a wide open mayor’s race in Chicago because the incumbent, Democrat Richard M. Daley, is retiring. Rahm Emanuel is running and he will have plenty of competition. A big city mayoral election generates a lot of events: Candidates appear all over town. Unions and community groups have to decide whom to endorse. Speeches, debates, rallies, fundraisers in living rooms, backyard barbeques, meetings in church basements… Picture them all on a spreadsheet. Now tack that spreadsheet up on a wall.

What if we tried to cover every event, big and small, involving every candidate who had a legitimate chance to be the next mayor, but also all the events where the candidates themselves may be missing but the campaign is somehow alive and present in the space between Chicagoans. That would be 100 percent coverage of campaign events.

Of course in their weakened state, the Chicago Tribune and the Sun-Times couldn’t manage it. But the news ecosystem in Chicago has many players: the weeklies, a big public media sector, community newspapers, the ethnic press, any number of news start-ups, lots of local blogs. To cover everything, they’d have to collaborate in a way that hasn’t been seen yet in Chicago. And figuring out how to do that would be innovation.

Now I know what you’re thinking: who wants that much information about a single election? Wouldn’t it just overload the voter’s circuits and turn people off before the race even got going? Yeah, probably. But I’m just easing you into the idea for now. Aligning supply and demand with experiment and invention is hard, but this is just another way of saying that innovation rarely happens.

Let’s keep going…

Every Sunday, in the churches of Philadelphia, the ministers give their sermons. Each in his way is a community leader. But what do these leaders talk about each week? Maybe there should be a way to find out. The system that would permit us to know by Monday what was said in all the churches on Sunday… that’s the 100 percent solution for the church-going community in Philly. Are you sure there would be scant demand for that kind of information? I’m not.

Here’s an example that comes from my friend and podcast partner, the technologist Dave Winer. In New York City, Verizon is rolling out its super high speed Internet service, called FIOS. There’s no map that tells us which buildings have FIOS, which are in the process of getting it, and which do not have it at all. The company doesn’t provide that kind of information. Verizon does allow you to enter your address and find out about your building, but it keeps the big picture to itself.

So Dave and I have been wondering: there’s roughly 110 blocks in the coverage area for the Local East Village (which is co-produced by NYU and the New York Times.) We figure there has to be a way to get good information about the availability of FIOS in every building on every block. And if we were able to get it, and map it, and put that data before the users of the site, would there be demand for that information? I think there would be.

Is the 100 percent solution beginning to make some sense? I hope so. It starts with a vision: what if we could cover all of it? Then a glimpse into the value proposition that 100 percent coverage presents for a given community of users. When you try to act on that vision, make good on the glimpse, you invariably run into problems. It’s sweating those problems that leads to innovation, or at least to new knowledge.

Now to some real life examples of the 100 percent solution in action.

What if we interview all the bands?

In March of 2010, AOL attempted to interview all 2,000 bands appearing at the South by Southwest music festival in Austin. Saul Hansell, the director of AOL’s seed.com, a network of freelance writers, explained it this way in a blog post aimed at potential contributors:

With this project, we’re starting to show off how Seed is going to be very different from other sites that offer writing work over the Internet. Seed is an integral part of the new AOL, one of the largest journalistic organizations in the world. And we’re asking Seed contributors not simply to regurgitate what they can find searching the Web, but to get on the phone, get out into the world, ask questions, witness events and write what they’ve discovered.

You can also see how we are going to evolve the way Seed deals with creators. So far, we have mainly had open assignments, in which any number of people could submit articles. Some have said this seems more like a contest than a job. For SXSW, we are only asking one writer to profile each band. To make this work, we are using e-mail for part of the process. Soon the Seed site will automatically handle this sort of assignment. And it will invite creators to tell us about their professional experience, so we can match the right assignments to the right people.

Like everything we’re doing now at Seed, this is very much an experiment. We don’t know how these interviews will turn out. But I’m betting, they will be as lively and varied as the SXSW festival itself.

Right there you can see what I mean by “… In trying to reach the goal you immediately run into problems. To solve those problems you often have to improvise or innovate.” Seed.com didn’t have the systems in place to handle that many contributors on one project. So they had to do it by email. But what a great way to get a handle on the system you need to build. The spec sheet practically writes itself.

Of course there were problems. I asked Hansell what the goals of the experiment were:

What we did had internal and external goals. I came up with the idea when I was told that AOL had decided to be a corporate sponsor of the event and would make Seed a major theme. Since the show was about four months after I joined AOL (which was a week after Seed’s launch), it seemed a good time to show the world what we wanted to do with it. There had been a lot of discussion about Robocontent, so one main point of our project was to focus on human reporting—in this case telephone interviews with the nearly 2000 bands that play the show.

We also wanted to stress test our very new systems, both people and machines.

So were you satisfied with the results, Saul?

The project achieved my goals with flying colors. We used our platform to create fun and unique content. In many cases, these were the first interviews with these bands ever by a national outlet. We also created enough stress on the system to diagnose many weaknesses we’ve worked to fix.

In the end, we did phone interviews with well over half the bands. Some wouldn’t call us back. In a few cases there were language problems or reporters who were unreliable. I’ve said it was a PR mistake to say we would interview all 2000 bands rather than try to interview them. But in my mind, that’s a footnote.

Would he recommend this method?

I’m of mixed opinion on the merits of trying to cover 100 percent of something. I think there is a great user benefit to promising to cover everything in a set. A site about cars or movies that has all the models or all the films is far more useful than one that only has some. The risk of wasting your time when you go there looking for something is mitigated by the promise of completeness. And everything is of interest to somebody somewhere, people who we would love to serve.

On the other hand, there are some fields in which there are so many individual elements that it is very expensive to cover them all equally. There are 2000 times more searches each month for Lady Gaga than for Shar Jackson. We would love to create the best possible page for Shar’s still considerable number of fans. But the market is telling us to spend 2000 times more money on the pages we make on Lady Gaga.

True. It isn’t always possible to achieve 100 percent coverage of what Hansell calls a “set.” And I’m not recommending it as an “always and everywhere” solution. Just a neat little idea that can sometimes spark innovation.

Friday night lights

I’m on the advisory board of a newspaper chain, Journal-Register Company (JRC) that has gone “digital first.” John Paton, the CEO, agreed to create an IdeaLab for employees who wanted to experiment with new ways of covering the news. If selected they would get 25 percent of their time to work on their ideas. I urged members of the IdeaLab to try the 100 percent solution and two of them took me up on it.

Chris Stanley, online editor for The Reporter in Lansdale, PA, tried it with high school sports. JRC has a number of papers in the suburban Philadelphia area but they had rarely worked together.

We wanted to get coverage and scores from not just the high schools in our area, but all the schools in PIAA District 1 (the state HS sports governing organization that covers much of the Philadelphia region). Since we have news organizations in these areas that cover these schools, we needed to find a way to integrate their coverage and live score reporting with our own. But some areas of the district are not covered by us, our own sports staffs work on different deadlines, and posting stories for sharing was usually somewhat of an afterthought.

Some games were double and triple-covered, others got no coverage at all. Scores did not appear on the web sites until late at night, if at all.

For live score coverage of Friday night games we turned to Twitter. Reporters, photographers, editors, readers, fans, whoever is at a game can send us Tweets via @phillyscores. We promote this online and in the print product.

Some editors were concerned about spamming or kids trashing rival teams with this account, so we compromised with a system of re-tweeting scores. One person in the cluster monitors the account and re-tweets anything marked @phillyscores. In addition, that account follows many other media, sports and school Twitter accounts and will also re-tweet relevant score information. A Twitter widget is posted on our HS football page, and relevant local scores are also highlighted on a scroll bar.

So not only do we get the benefit of reports from our own staff, we can also draw on many sources in the community. Other score reporting sites have started re-tweeting our own scores, which is fantastic. We can also embed story links among our scores to draw readers to our web site.

One of the benefits of the project was to get the sports departments of the various newspapers in Journal-Register onto the same page.

Other new efforts include using Google Groups to arrange coverage among sports editors at different properties, to avoid double or triple-covering overlapping games and ensuring every game is covered. In the past, sports staffs at different properties rarely talked. Now we know what each property is covering, and overlap has been eliminated.

Schools, teams, parents groups and others post their own web sites, with game information, stats, rosters, photos, videos and more. We need to link to these resources and arrange to use some of them in our own coverage. We can’t be afraid to recognize good information wherever it comes from. The next step will be to integrate all these elements – complete coverage of ALL district games, Twitter, blogs (staff and community), links to those team and school sites, schedules, player and team pages – into a package that will be the ultimate source of information for football (and other sports, as well) in the region. Plans for such a site are in the works on a company-wide level.

“Every high school football game in Greater Trenton.”

Ben Doody is the assistant sports editor of the Trentonian. His Idea Lab project is “live coverage of every high school football game in Greater Trenton.”

The goal was to harness the power of Twitter to have reporters — and, ideally, fans as well — send updates from games, then, through hashtags, bring the tweets together in a live blog in which readers can follow along and ask questions.

We unveiled the feature during the first weekend of play in New Jersey and have run the chat every time there are multiple games in the area. (Essentially, any time games are played other than when one or two makeup games are going on and there’s not enough content to fill a chat. But even then, we’ve had reporters tweet updates.)

The readership total still produces a tiny percentage of our daily page views, but it’s grown steadily over the first three weeks, and compares extremely favorably to what most sites get for live chats… it’s the single-most innovative feature on our site, and the one with the biggest potential.

On the first night, we had 30 readers and two or three games uncovered. Yet this past Saturday, we had every game in the area covered and brought in 150 readers — several of whom chimed in with questions and comments.

I didn’t set out with a particular readership goal in mind, both because it’s not something we can directly control and because I had little idea what the response would be. But a fair metric to be judged upon is growth, and I’m extremely pleased with how quickly it’s caught on.

The one metric I set out to reach was 100 percent coverage — a goal we achieved for the first time this past weekend, but one that we’ll have to work hard in order to make every week. One thing I’ve learned over the past two years is that doing something once is easy. Doing it consistently is the hard part, and that means instead of popping open bottles of champagne, we need to focus on how we’re going to do it again every week.

In order to get live coverage of all the games, reporters had to learn new skills. But not all of them are equally ready for that. Ben explains:

Some reporters needed no prodding and virtually no training. Those were the easy ones. I told them which hashtags to use, and that was it.

Others already had Twitter accounts or were willing to set them up, but needed a lot of guidance when it came to things like the tone and frequency of tweets we were looking for. I showed them some examples, explained the concept we were working with, and they’ve done a good job so far.

We have a third group, though it only has one member: Rich Fisher, a stringer who’s been in the business for more than 35 years — including a long tenure as a full-timer at The Trentonian –and who’s trying as hard as anyone to learn how to stay as modern as possible.

Fish is the one veteran journalist I work with who frequently sends text messages. He also publishes a website — Fish4scores.com — dedicated to youth and high school sports in Hamilton Twp. and wants to market his own site on Twitter. I created a Twitter account for him, and he worked his way up to tweeting from his phone — a huge success story, since he’s the only member of what I’d call the Old Guard who’s now a self-sufficient tweeter.

The fourth group has given me some encouragement as well, though in different ways: People who I was certain weren’t going to tweet their own updates, either because they were unwilling or unable to do so. This is where we need to be honest about how things work and not bite off more than we can chew. We have to recognize situations where we can’t run through a wall and figure out a way to walk around it or break it down piece by piece.

There are a few people in this group, and we’ve reached the point where all of them are calling me with updates so I can post them. One, legendary Trentonian sportswriter George O’Gorman, loves what we’re doing and is happy to contribute, but is often without a laptop and is unable to see the keys on his cellphone clearly enough to send texts.

The system is unorthodox, but it works extremely well: George calls with updates. I have The Trentonain’s Twitter account open and type the updates as he says them. He’s crystal-clear about what’s going on and I’m Twitter-savvy enough to convey it in 140 characters. In many ways, it’s the best of both worlds — and it doesn’t at all diminish the quality or quantity of information we’re giving readers.

Hundreds of small platform meetings

When I worked with Amanda Michel, Marc Cooper and thousands of volunteers on OffTheBus.Net, the citizen journalism wing of the Huffington Post’s election coverage in 2007-08, we looked for ways to experiment with distributed reporting and data collection. Here’s a simple example:

WANTED: Citizen reporters to help HuffPost’s OffTheBus cover the Obama campaign. Over the next two weeks the campaign will be holding hundreds of small platform meetings where the public is invited to help shape the nominee’s platform. We need you to be a reporter in your local meeting, and to measure the effectiveness of the campaign. Already planned to attend one? You can report in directly to us. Either way, it’s another great way for you to get involved in the presidential race.

In order to execute on this invitation, OffTheBus needed:

* a sign-up form and corresponding database of participants;

* instructions for how to navigate to local events;

* a form to fill out with questions the volunteers were to answer, along with guidelines for the act of reporting; (You can see that form here.)

* a deadline by which to submit reports;

* reminder e-mails, telling people that that OffTheBus was counting on them, including one that went out shortly after the event ended;

* a tracking system that told the editors of OffTheBus if the necessary materials had been downloaded. (“There was always attrition,” Amanda Michel told me. Meaning: people who said they would file a report who never took the necessary steps.)

* constant recruitment after the initial call-out, so that whenever OffTheBus mentioned the upcoming platform meetings the invitation to help report on them was repeated. “We never relied on one attempt,” Michel said.

These necessary steps are the learning dividend from trying to cover all the meetings.

So that’s the 100 percent solution. The point of trying it is to jump right into the middle of the innovation puzzle.

But there is another point, which I haven’t mentioned. In a time of contraction in the news industry, and of diminished expectations in the workaday world of professional journalism, we need counter-cyclical measures that broaden our ambitions, widen the lens and insist that with new tools and greater participation–what Alan Rusbridger, editor of The Guardian, calls the mutualization of journalism–we can do way more than we were ever able to do before.

After Matter: Notes, reactions & links…

This post marks the debut of PressThink’s new design (by the excellent and artful Lauren Rabaino.) It’s the first overhaul since I launched the blog in 2003. Nieman Lab did an interview with me about how I blog and what I wanted the new site to accomplish.

Comments on the new design are welcome.

Over at the Online Journalism Blog, Paul Bradshaw has added to this post with: A template for ’100 percent reporting’.

I thought I’d create a template for that spreadsheet that tells you just how far you are in achieving your 100% goal, makes it easier to organise newsgathering across a network of actors, and introduces game mechanics to make the process more pleasurable.

“This has to be the daftest thing I’ve read for a long time.” Kevin Marsh at the BBC College of Journalism site isn’t buying it: A hundred percent is no solution. He seems to think it means the end of editing, judgment, and selection.

By usage and custom and civic usefulness, and without ever saying so out loud, we citizens have tasked journalism with giving us timely snapshots of greater truths without the burden of (necessarily) capturing 100% of that greater truth. Bluntly, journalism stops when we citizens know enough – insert here a definition of ‘enough’; it will be different in different places.

Oh, look. Bobbie Johnson thinks the same thing.

The Brumby Dump: an example of the 100 percent approach from Crikey in Australia.

Katrina Dix writes about the 100 percent solution at her personal blog.

My first thought, of course, was, “How can I apply this? What would this mean for me?” I cover Coatesville, PA, the only city in my county, which has been described as a scale version of Philadelphia, or Chester in Delaware County. In my spare time (?) I cover the surrounding municipalities as well.

Back in February, Dave Winer and I discussed the 100 percent solution and AOL’s South by Southwest project on our weekly podcast, Rebooting the News. “It’s almost like the beginning of a wikipedia system for the indy music scene.”

Josh Stearns on Slicesofboulder.com, an example of the 100 percent approach in Boulder Colorado.

In the comments, Brooke Kroeger, head of the journalism program at NYU, recalls a 100 percent coverage system from her days as a wire service reporter for UPI.

Also in the comments, Josh Benton, head of the Nieman Lab at Harvard:

Thinking in terms of “100% coverage” can warp the kinds of coverage one does, not just the quantity or the processes therein. To use your Chicago example, focusing on a goal of ‘let’s cover 100% of mayoral events’ could make it easy to avoid a separate, fruitful argument — namely, “Why the hell should we be focusing so much of our coverage on events instead of on issues?”

My italics.

20 Comments

  1. Anna Tarkov says:

    Since you used the Chicago example in the beginning and I’m familiar with the news ecosystem here, I have some questions :)

    If someone were to undertake this massive collaboration of all the news outlets, blogs, etc, who would it be? There would have to be a central authority, no? In all of the examples you gave, there was someone in charge. One organization. One website. Someone.

    Who would be able to take on such a role in Chicago? As you can well imagine, it’s still highly competitive around here and I can’t even fathom TV stations, newspapers, radio stations, etc all submitting to a singular authority.

    Having an outside authority wouldn’t work so far as I can see. Someone could aggregate coverage, but they would not have the power to assign or disseminate reports. So if I’m that person for instance, I can show a reader 5 different reports from the same event, but I will have had no power to tell 4 of the outlets not to be there, etc.

    Furthermore, where would this collaboration of coverage live? Even if by some miracle someone got all the news outlets in Chicago to cooperate, where would the result appear? Would every TV station show the same footage? Would all the print dailies and websites display the same text? I guess I need some help in imagining how this would look.

    • As a young reporter, I instigated such a collaboration for prep basketball scores in Chicago in 1976. The partners were the old UPI, where I worked; The Chicago Tribune, and the biggest big local radio station.

      We worked through the Illinois High School Association whose coaches assigned designates to telephone the scores into an 800-number within 15 minutes of the final buzzer. A team of high school students we assembled at UPI’s office on Michigan Ave. answered the phones They in turn fed the scores to the teletype operators (who, because of the advent of computers, no longer had nearly as much to do as in years past, but were employed until retirement.)

      Within half-an-hour of the end of each game, every score in the state was on the wire to all of our state clients. Under the previous model — regional stringer phone-ins — the process took several hours each game night as stringers gathered up scores in their respective areas of the state and got around to phoning them in. As many as three working journalists would have to take the dictation. It was, of course, the very thought of this thrice-weekly chore that inspired the idea for the service.

      The support and participation of the IHSA was key because all the schools with teams belonged to it.

      The system worked fantastically well until the national Wire Service Guild grieved this project of local guild members. We were told at the time it was because the use of the high school students for dictation was taking away jobs from journalists. That unnerved the partners. And, alas, so ended the prep service.

      • Anna Tarkov says:

        Yes, I can see how this would work with high school sports coverage. Political coverage is another matter entirely. Can you envision a way to make Jay’s proposal of federated campaign event coverage take place in Chicago? I’m having trouble though I fervently wish there WAS a way.

        • Larry Kart says:

          OK — but there’s a big difference, no, between blanket coverage of high school sports and blanket coverage of a political campaign? The former is essentially (but not always exclusively) reportorial — this is what the scores were, this is how the games went down. But however useful in one sense a “this is what every candidate did and said today” approach to a political campaign might be, here some sort of interpretive framework would seem to be essential (an IIRC this is in line with points that Jay Rosen has made here in the past). For example, there are times when just reporting what, say, a Christine O’Donnell did and said would be quite sufficient (because a fair amount of that stuff is arguably, plainly breathtaking), but in the majority of cases, are not the daily words and deeds of the candidates frequently a form of disguise and dissembling that calls for frequent careful decoding on the part of the journalistic outfits that are covering them. One doesn’t get this IMO crucial response often enough in journalism today, of course, for a host of practical and semi-ideological reasons, but how would the sort of blanket coverage proposed here make anything better in that, again IMO, crucial realm?

    • Jay Rosen says:

      Anna: All I can say in reply to your questions is… Please re-read this part. “When you try to act on that vision, you invariably run into problems. And it’s sweating those problems that leads to innovation, or at least to new knowledge.”

      You’re saying, “show me how this is possible.” But there is no guarantee that it is possible. What I said is that when you try act on a vision of 100 percent coverage you immediately run into problems, and it is those problems that are valuable. I agree, of course, that it would be a huge challenge to get city-wide collaboration in a competitive market like Chicago, which is one reason I called that case an “imaginary” one.

      The fact that we cannot envision it now is (take your pick) either an insurmountable difficulty or a big fat juicy invite to innovate.

      Here’s another way of replying: forget about the cooperation for now. Forget about how to cover everything… for now. Just focus on the public spreadsheet. Can we imagine that? :-)

      • Anna Tarkov says:

        Aha, I see what you’re saying now. Yes, I CAN imagine the public spreadsheet. Hmmm, I might actually see if I can get that to happen. If not for this race, then for another perhaps.

  2. Nice thought provoking piece,Jay, this is certainly the way to go, but — not the ONLY way to go.

    I do think that in a mass democratic society we will still need a professional function of – how shall we name them? “chosers”, perhaps. People to whom a citizen may want to delegate, not for ever or for everything, sifting through information and coming up with what maybe relevant.

    This does not mean in anyway that we shouldnt’ strive for the 100% solution, to get all the help we can to get it, etc. It’s only a way of reminding us that the other need will always be there and either “journalists” (or however we will name them) provide also the other function, or somebody else will.

  3. That’s a good thought, Jay, but I’ll raise one tiny objection: Thinking in terms of “100% coverage” can warp the kinds of coverage one does, not just the quantity or the processes therein.

    To use your Chicago example, focusing on a goal of “let’s cover 100% of mayoral events” could make it easy to avoid a separate, fruitful argument — namely, “Why the hell should we be focusing so much of our coverage on events instead of on issues?”

    Because events are quantifiable in a way issues aren’t, they’re appealing to the 100% mindset — instead of thinking about the marginal value of covering (say) that final 1% of events vs. doing different kinds of coverage.

    Not arguing with your basic innovation-stoking point, but just saying that in a world of constrained resources, focusing such a high percentage of them on one set makes it even more important that you pick the right set.

  4. Yerjokingme says:

    As a principle 100% sounds like an an idea that’s easy to get behind – assuming you have a motivated team. It goes well beyond journalism, and I think could have application in any industry with big ‘information needs’.

    Anyway, I think this idea screams out that it needs an open tech solution, which allows groups of people (volunteers, organizers, journalists etc) to specify their sources, contribute, assign roles, perform analytics and Search – I’m not aware of a single package that rolls up Facebook, myspace, wikis, blogger with google anlytics, with Twitter integration, but without the corporate privacy concerns. A heavily modded Drupal could work – but your gonna need coders.

    Sorry if this is obvious or patronising – just my 2 cents.

  5. Eric Newton says:

    I like Jay’s 100 Percent Solution as a way to think about things in a different way and motivate folks to try something new. It feels right to add credibilty to a new or information service by promoting it as a 100 percent provider in a certain subject area in a world where everyone else is not. Increasingly stretched orgs are trying to cover 1 percent of everything, rather than 100 percent of something. This forces focusing decisions about what one’s 100 percent area should be. Neat idea.

  6. Ed Cone says:

    Sounds somewhat like the project we discussed a few years back.

  7. Maybe Ed Cone’s old advice about keeping it simple is right.

    And that’s why the prep high school sports example is so fascinating. What an amazing comment from Brooke Kroeger about the basketball score effort from 1976.

    Subject matter as uncomplicated as prep sports scores, crowdsourced and available to all participants and others listening in, serves as a living example of the power and drawbacks of sharing and open data. It can show the danger of social media trolls and others who might try to hijack Twitter hashtags and dirty the data.

    It educates contributors and readers to the daunting task of being accurate, all the time, and managing large amounts of data without errors. It shows why verification and skeptical analysis of information are important.

    If the data remains open for competitors and collaborators, then those competitors see how working together brings more depth and breadth, but also how design adds value. If multiple sources capture the same consistently tagged data, then readers, in theory, will reward the source that adds the most value around that data or makes it easiest to use.

    And sports, as we should know by now with paywalls, has the most chance of bringing in revenue that can subsidize more complicated civic work while educating large numbers of people, within and outside newsrooms, on the concepts of sharing, tagging, and participating.

    To Josh’s point that the 100 percent method can warp the kinds of coverage one does, that warping happens every day at news organizations, where space is determined by the amount and kind of advertising in different sections of newspapers. Online, the dependence on advertising warps budgets, surely, with more money spent on topics that wrap around more lucrative or more ubiquitous ads. Add the effect of frequent, fast and shallow postings on Google rankings and traffic, and the warping becomes more apparent.

    To Anna’s questions, collaborative structure is indeed a tough question, but at least some of the biggest brands have become more open to discussions as resources have dwindled. Dan Conover’s writings about the hashtag summit in Charleston, S.C., in early 2009 show how one community tried to organize competing media, and Charleston’s work inspired Columbia, S.C., Asheville, N.C. and my town of Charlotte, to name a few. It’s a long uneven education process, but it’s slowly moving ahead, with broader acceptance of common tagging of open data (if one can call data shared through the private company of Twitter “open”). Perhaps sometimes it’s easier to move ahead in smaller communities.

    This 100 percent approach and similar efforts could further the process. Nice idea.

    Charleston’s hashtag summit: http://xark.typepad.com/my_weblog/2009/03/organizing-chs-news-from-the-ground-up.html

  8. Jeremy says:

    What about starting with a better coverage of the sources?

    noodls is trying (very successfully) to do just that: cover all the relevant sources – wherever they are and whenever they speak, no matter their field – and aggregate their “official voice” in a single, secure and perfectly segmented vertical channel.

    No more spam, a PR directory of 80 000+ contacts if needed, an accurate segmentation by theme/groups/geography/language (including local government or administration, for instance) to enable journalists to never again miss a piece of information that is relevant to them.

    Check out http://www.noodls.com/media or register for a free trial at http://www.noodls.com to see how efficient exhaustive source coverage can be.

    Thank you.

    Jeremy / noodls.com

    (Disclosure: I am a noodls employee but feel very legitimate to mention our service in this conversation, our mission being precisely to “cover it all” using innovative technical solutions, all for the benefit of journalists and their daily tasks. It all starts with a vision after all, right?)

  9. [...] Jay Rosen passou a utilizar o recurso em seu blog. Veja que ao final de cada parágrafo, existe uma hashtag (link permanente correspondente ao [...]

  10. jane stevens says:

    Love the 100% solution! We began figuring out a way to incorporate it into our information architecture and institutionalize it in our newsroom early this year. But, I get ahead of myself….

    MaxPreps seems to have a goal of covering 100% of prep sports, and is well on its way to doing so.

    In fact, if you look at the hundreds of “digital native” niche sites that have sprung up over the last five years, their success depends on covering 100 percent of their chosen niche. The financial successes so far have emerged in national verticals in the topics of business (e.g., Marketwatch, 24/7 Wall Street), health (e.g., WebMD), tech (e.g., Crackberry), sports (MaxPreps and CBS’ 230 college/university athletic sites that are part of its CBS Sportsline) and entertainment (Hitfix, Hollywoodlife, The Wrap).

    The challenge is: how do you do this on a local level so that you can institutionalize the approach in the newsroom, and use it for more than an election or event? Our answer, in Lawrence, KS at LJWworld, is to create local niche sites. One of the first that was created several years ago, KUSports, is, ironically, now a local sports niche site that has a national community.

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