The Globe and Mail has just named its technology columnist, Matthew Ingram, to a new role as Communities Editor. He explains on his blog that even he’s not quite sure what that means.
“As far as I’m concerned, it means a chance to apply some of those Web 2.0, “media is a conversation,” social-networking principles (the kind we started the mesh conference to talk about) to the newspaper that I work for, instead of just writing about what other content producers are doing. We’re talking about blogs, comments, interactive features, Twitter, Facebook, and much more. Some attempts will fail. Others (hopefully) will not. The reality is that creating communities doesn’t happen overnight. “
Ingram explains that rather than finding ways to create communities directly, he believes that will happen “organically” if the Globe finds the right mix of ingredients to offer its readers and approaches the challenge as a sincere effort to make news a conversation rather than as a way to push advertising. But he knows it won’t be easy.
“As I told the senior editors at the Globe, in order for us to do this properly, we need to be committed to opening up our content in ways we haven’t even thought of — including some ways that might seem strange or contentious, and which could at least initially be met with considerable internal resistance. Among other things, we need to make it easier for people to find our content, share our content, link to our content and even make use of our content (in some cases to create their own content). “
For those of us with an eye on the future of newspapers and journalism, this will be an interesting experiment to watch.