Building an open Carolina news network

Chip Oglesby's Publish2 links for Boeing

Chip Oglesby's Publish2 links for Boeing

Warning: News geek alert. I hope this post will be of great interest to a small group of people, but I’m throwing out ideas that might be filled with jargon.

The recent rains that paralyzed Atlanta taught a lesson: Building a network before critical need arrives can make the sharing of news and information faster, more powerful and effective.

In the case of the Atlanta flood, local leaders in the Twitter community brought together people by advocating the use of a tag on Twitter that was easily searchable.

But we have more network tools than just Twitter, and the principles of networking apply across social networks.

One emerging news tool is Publish2, which is a for-profit company that allows journalists to bookmark links and tweets and share on their websites with widgets. The company also has widgets that allow website managers to add a request for tips from readers.

The New York Times uses Publish2 to aggregate “What we’re reading” posts. The (Columbia) State’s Chip Oglesby used Publish2 to aggregate stories about the Boeing move from Seattle to South Carolina, including posts from Seattle that gave a different perspective on the move. The screenshot above shows his work.

But Publish2 also has the ability to let journalists collaborate across newsrooms, building lists of links about a particular topic in newsgroups. Then different newsrooms (or blogs) can share the crowdsourced links with widgets on their own websites.

That’s a powerful tool, as illustrated with the crowdsourced use of hashtags on Twitter during emergencies and breaking news. And in the Publish2 case, the crowdsourcers are all pre-approved, theoretically “reliable sources.”

Another example: The hearings about former N.C. Gov. Mike Easley have generated widespread coverage, and interest, across the state. Mark Binker of Greensboro is generating amazing quick coverage on Twitter, and the Greensboro News and Record is using Cover it Live to aggregate those tweets. Raleigh is taking a different approach, using live video, live blogging and comments on the News and Observer site.

News organizations across the state have interest in the hearings but can’t always afford to staff them. Publish2 could help them work together to aggregate coverage and link out to original sources from their own websites.

Admittedly, Publish2 is a for-profit company. Where this goes, I’m unsure. Perhaps Google Wave will make this collaboration easier in a different form in the future. But not yet, and hey, Google is a for-profit company too, just like Twitter (some day).

It’s past time to try out Publish2 collaboratively and learn some broad principles that can apply to networking the news. Let’s build a North Carolina network and a Carolinas network before we get hit with a hurricane or some other big news event that will need all our resources, collaboratively.

Perhaps some day, we’ll find similar tools that are open source and free.

Let’s experiment and iterate now. I’ve created the groups and seeded them with some Carolinas journalists on Publish2.

I have to acknowledge this: I’m throwing out this idea from outside any legacy newsroom, and I understand the heavy competitive pressure within those newsrooms. Perhaps this idea won’t fly in those newsrooms. But then, it might fly among the growing ranks of independent journalists. And as we experiment, other projects like the J-Lab Networking the News effort are encouraging cooperation among independents and legacy newsrooms in two N.C. cities, Asheville and Charlotte.

Ryan Sholin and Greg Linch of Publish2 are behind this idea and willing to help.

If you’ve already used Publish2 and want to join the North Carolina or Carolinas networks, let me know. If you want to be an administrator, let me know. If you think it’s a dumb, stupid idea, let me know.

Update from comments: If you’re not already on Publish2, send the email address you want to use to sign up in a direct message to Underoak on Twitter (me), or email it to me at akrewson45cATmacDOTcom. It looks like that method will automagically put you in the newsgroup or groups.

Try. Try again. Repeat.

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6 responses to “Building an open Carolina news network

  1. How can I help? Where do I sign up?

  2. Good question, will add details to post.
    If you’re not already on Publish2:
    Easiest way: Send me a DM on Twitter at underoak with your email account. Then I can send you an invite through Publish2 that will let you sign up and, I think, automatically put you in the North Carolina group. If you want in on the broader Carolinas group, let me know.
    Or email me your address at akrewson45cATmacDOTcom
    If you have friends you’d want to invite, I can also make you an admin for now.

  3. Hi all! Ryan Sholin, Director of News Innovation at Publish2 here.

    We’re more than happy to help put together link-sharing networks in the Carolinas based on state, region, topic, or anything else you’d like to group up around.

    Andria correctly notes that we’re a for-profit company, but all of our services and tools are *free* for journalists.

    Publish2 is built on open-source frameworks, and our goal is to help journalists collaborate — whether that happens around a common need for a stream of links related to an issue like the Boeing plant(s) opening in Charleston or around a conversation about community management at Wired Journalists.

    Drop me a line at ryan@publish2.com if you want to know more, or check out http://blog.publish2.com/examples for a few great ideas.

  4. I think we’re in. Our web guys are going to take a look over the weekend, but I’m pretty sure we can play!

  5. Yay!

    At Chip Oglesby’s instigation, I’m creating a Google Wave for further discussion. If you’re on the Wave and want in there, let me know.

    But I’ll repeat here what I’m saying there:

    Some people like Chip have used Publish2 in a real production world, with a real, commercial website. Others are brand new to Publish2. Idea at the moment is just to create and build the network, adding people who might be interested and willing to learn enough in advance to be useful when the network is needed. Anything posted there now as test cases might be best taken down before the newsgroup was used to build real widgets for real news websites for real news events.

    It appears there are email capabilities across a newsgroup from within Publish2, so in theory any user (?) could email the group and say, “Hey, I want to crank this up for the ice storm,” and then we could clean up and get rid of any test posts.

    Unless, of course, anyone wants to use it right now for Easley stuff. I think it’s too early though.

    Beyond that, I would hope we’d establish rules and protocols as a group. Thoughts?

  6. Oh, one more thing:
    The “sandbox” to see widgets for the newgroups in action at the moment is at the bottom left of http://oinnovate.blogspot.com/

    Widget fonts can be customized, and more or less information can be put into them. As a sidebar widget, in general, I’m thinking less is more, at the moment. But play around and see.

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