I’m looking for a WordPress plugin that allows Django Book / Newsmixer style paragraph-by-paragraph commenting. CommentPress looks like a whole theme built around that concept, which seems like overkill to me, but a) maybe that’s necessary and b) maybe pieces of it can be reverse-engineered?
First, two items for the glossary so I can make sorted references to mixed berries in this post:
- Crunchberry.org = The virtual home of the Medill J-School’s Knight News Challenge grantee programmer/journalists.
- Newsmixer.us = The demo of the community conversation application the Crunchberry team built for the Cedar Rapids Gazette, a newspaper in Iowa which might recognize from its awesome flood coverage this summer, or from its sorted crew of innovation-happy newsfolk.
Now that we have that out of the way, go check out Angela Nitzke’s Crunchberry post on the team’s “recommendations for journalists, news organizations and media companies.” There’s a cluster of similar posts the team members have written since presenting the demo to the Cedar Rapids bunch last week, but this one is my favorite.
Here’s a clip:
“Enlist young creative minds in developing your digital products. One way to do this, as the Gazette has done for our project, is to partner with universities and their students. Another approach is to inject people from other fields (e.g., software developers).
Teach people new tricks. Recruit programmers/developers and teach them how to integrate what they do with journalism, or collaborate with engineering schools. Teach journalists how to better their stories through the use of new technology. The more you know about these technologies the more you know how to make them work for you (and your story). If it’s not practical to teach the technology in journalism school, publicize opportunities to learn it elsewhere on campus and guide motivated students to resources they can use to teach themselves.”
As for my feedback on the Newsmixer project, I think it has a huge amount of potential as a conversation vertical, along the lines of the Guardian’s Comment is Free. I don’t see Newsmixer running as a mainstream news site, but as a place to substitute for outdated message boards or underused staff blogs. Populate it with content from your news and opinion sections, and let it stand as the forum for reader feedback, use it as your primary source for comments, letters, and other reader-authored content to run in print.
Heck, if it gets big enough, print the letters and comments as a four page insert once a week, not just in a box on the opinion page.