I think it’s a great idea. It will work. Good stories will come out of the project.
And that’s where I get off the bus, because I’m hoping for something that goes beyond a “project.”
I want a hunk of code that professional or amateur journalists can use to build social networks around their beat.
That’s my reservation about the plan as it stands right now: Leaving the technical choices of how to get this job done up to news organizations seems like it leaves a major step unfinished.
For me, that step is leaving behind software that a news organization can use to build more social networks around beats.
I have yet to work in a newsroom where its technical needs were caught up to its philosophy. For example, it is much easier to convince editors that presenting information in databases online is a good idea than it is to actually code up an application to make it easy for reporters or online staff untrained in MySQL and PHP to do it.
A few ways New Assignment could leave behind some useful code:
- Offer the participating organizations or soloists a WordPress theme and plugins configured to highlight the posts and comments from registered members of the source/social network.
- Or do it with Drupal.
- Build a application in Django that collects data from a set of forms and feeds it into a database, making it easier to collect quantitative data from the sourc/social network, and readers in general.
Then again, there’s a chance I’m just completely misinterpreting the mission of New Assignment, but I’d like to believe that part of it is to enable the Pros to collect and surface information from the Ams.
Am I way out in left field on this one?
The title of this post comes from AP CEO Tom Curley’s much blogged-about speech:
“I’ve been inside many major news organizations the last couple years, and, invariably, I hear the same refrain. We know what to do, but we can’t get it done. Or, sadly, we’re in worse shape than we were two years ago because we’re spending even more proportionately trying to keep the old model functioning.”
What I’m looking for are ways that those who have the tools to “get it done” can help those who “know what to do.”
It can’t be that hard.