Publish2 acquires Wired Journalists

In January 2008, Howard Owens, Zac Echola, and I launched a social network with self-motivated, eager-to-learn reporters, editors, executives, students and faculty in mind.

Wired Journalists was born with the mission of connecting the knowledgeable, expert innovators in online news with journalists of all stripes hoping to learn something new about their evolving craft.

Today we’re proud to announce that Publish2 has acquired Wired Journalists.

At Publish2, the mission of connecting journalists based on common goals and interests will continue and — we hope — grow exponentially as the Wired Journalists network becomes a space for collaboration on real-world reporting as well as conversations about craft.

Publish2 builds online tools for news organizations looking to bring the best of the Web to their readers — and to each other.  Those of you who know me personally are likely aware that I joined Publish2 earlier this year as Director of News Innovation.  In one of my early conversations with Publish2 CEO Scott Karp, we started sketching out what Wired Journalists might look like if it had the funding, attention, and staff that we’d always wanted.

Out of those conversations came a rock-solid proposal to give Wired Journalists a new home under the Publish2 banner, where I could personally devote time to it as a part of my role at Publish2.

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Wired Journalists has been a labor of love — and love only — for Howard, Zac, and I, with some help from Pat Thornton of BeatBlogging more recently, but we always saw the potential of the 3,000-plus-strong membership, if only we had the time to manage the community and help to make a few connections and guide a few conversations.

With Publish2, we’re going to get that opportunity, and a lot more.  I’m looking forward to jumping into conversations on Wired Journalists as part of my day job, and I’m psyched to get Greg Linch involved as soon as he hits the ground at Publish2.

In short, it’s been great, and it’s going to be excellent.

A personal thank you to everyone who showed up in early 2008 when Howard, Zac, and I told you about the vision for Wired Journalists, and thank you to those of you that I’ve learned more about over the last year and a half through the network.

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Here are a few key links from the beginning of Wired Journalists:

2008 objectives for today’s non-wired journalist
howardowens.com | December 27, 2007
At the end of 2007, when I had been working for Howard Owens for about three months, he posted this checklist of goals for journalists new to online tools and media platforms. It sparked enough interest, and inquiries from journalists within GateHouse and other organizations, including Forum Communications, where Zac Echola fielded requests from reporters asking how they could get involved. So this is the blog post that started Wired Journalists.

Introducing WiredJournalists.com, a place people looking for new knowledge to get help
howardowens.com | January 22, 2008
Here’s the January 2008 announcement post from Howard Owens, calling Wired Journalists a place “…for journalists just starting down the path of transforming their careers and doing the hard work of saving journalism…”

Zac Echola’s original message about Wired Journalists
blog-o-blog.com | January 22, 2008
This page has been standing on Zac’s blog since the launch of Wired Journalists in January 2008. It starts off with a call to action: “Now is the time to be that catalyst for change in your news organization. No more talking about it. We’re doing it. And we want you to do it too.”

Introducing WiredJournalists.com
Invisible Inkling | January 22, 2008
Here’s my first post introducing Wired Journalists in January 2008: “So please, come join this new community, but more than that, pass the link along to the guy in the next cubicle who doesn’t read blogs. Pass it along to the photographer who hasn’t built a slideshow. Pass it along to your editors, your teachers, and your students.”

Tools for News: Chris Amico’s new database of online news tools

Behind the scenes at Wired Journalists, a few of us have been talking for some time about the need for an all-encompassing database of online tools for news, featuring tutorials, examples, ratings, and reviews.

Chris Amico has made a solid run at building out the guts of it, launching his Tools for News this week.

amicotoolkit_screenshot

Looks pretty simple, but there are lots of little pivot points in the data, so you can register, leave a comment about a tool, add a link to an example of how a tool has been used before, or to a tutorial about the tool, etc…  I’m hoping to see some basic rating systems added as well, and probably support for OpenID or Facebook Connect or another alternate auth system.

How about an automatically created widget for each tool with vital stats, links, and an activity feed for the page?

I’m full of requests for this thing – Chris has been awesome about fielding feedback on this project.  Check out his blog post about it here.

A podcast in which I discuss the merits and limits of Ning with Pat Thornton

I spent 20 minutes or so talking about Wired Journalists and Ning with Pat Thornton last week for a BeatBlogging.org podcast.

Here are some highlights from Pat’s list of questions:

  • Would you choose Ning again if you could start over?
  • How specific should a topic be for a Ning site to be specific?
  • How many users are needed for a quality Ning network?
  • How do you get the most out of Ning?
  • What tips or tricks do you have for people interested in setting up a network?

I hope I did a relatively decent job of answering those, or at the very least, explaining the easiest way to find the answers to those questions.

You’ll hear mentions of a few Ning-powered social networks at newspapers, including Your Santa Cruz Sports and School Matters (in Knoxville, TN).

What don’t we know about news organizations using Ning?  Say so in the comments at BeatBlogging.org.

Wired Journalists in 2008: Were you in it to win?

Howard “yes, he’s my boss” Owens follows up on the December 2007 post that spawned Wired Journalists with an update as the year grinds to a burly, overwhelming close. (Well, it’s been that way the last couple weeks for me, at least.)

Howard asks how wired you’ve become in 2008:

The post stirred a lot of conversation, but I only heard from a couple of reporters who were taking on the MBO program.  I’ve not heard back on progress from any of them in months.

Editors John Robinson in Greensboro and Linda Grist Cunningham in Rockford set up similar programs for their newsrooms.  Robinson, I know, rewarded at least two staff members for completing his list of “get wired” goals.

Of course, Howard framed this as an “MBO program” and to me, it’s always going to be more organic and harder to track than any checklist with accountability, so here’s my completely anecdotal analysis:

  • More journalists are using Twitter, Facebook, and other social networking and reporting tools to connect with their peers, sources, and readers.
  • More journalists are learning multimedia skills, whether it’s as simple as point-and-shoot video or as complicated as XML-to-Flash.
  • More journalists are getting curious about what all this new media talk is all about, even if that just means they’re curious enough to sign up for Wired Journalists (where there are now more than 3,000 members) and lurk.
  • All of this is good.

What about you?  How do you think journalists, in general, are doing at adopting (and adapting to) new technology? 

If Howard were to re-write his post for next year, what should the objectives for a wired journalist be in 2009?

New at Wired Journalists: WJ Tutorials

One of the original visions for Wired Journalists was that the “already-wired” would write tutorials about new media, new tools, and getting around the busier corners of the Web, for the benefit of the “non-wired” and everyone in the community.

It’s happened in fits and starts, but Pat Thornton of BeatBlogging.org is taking on a few more tasks around the WJ network as he can, and one of his missions is going to be to gather and write some fresh tutorials.

He recently posted the first in the series, a short introduction to podcasting.

Please, add your feedback to his post, suggest additional tools, tutorials, and resources for more information.

There are more than a few ideas kicking around about where to take Wired Journalists next (online news tool database? job board? e-mail list? more grants? sponsorships?), but I’m happy to say our little community is quietly chugging along, traffic has been steadily growing for several months now, and journalists from a truly wide variety of media, locations, and status levels in their respective fields are all talking with one another.

Hopefully, they’re finding answers there.  Are you?  Let us know.

Write to wiredjournalists@gmail.com

We’d love to hear your Wired Journalists success story, if you have one.