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Online media matters

Living Can Kill You

Community is not another buzzword

Something’s been wrong with mainstream news when The New York Times is considered innovative by acting like you’d expect your neighbour would.

Before community became a buzzword, it referred to the people you lived with. The people you relied on in your daily life. Newspapers used to play a big role in that community.

Then they gave up.

Online, they let the robots take over their news feeds.

They banned reporters from speaking openly on social media.

And as for genuine discussion, news outlets abandoned comments — just like the letters to the editor before them — to the trolls and the preachers.

Now, after more than five years of struggling with communicating online, things are starting to change in newsrooms.

The New York Times’ “innovations,” for example, include letting humans control the headlines and trusting their journalists to be the people they were hired to be. Mozilla and Knight Ridder are working to change how we talk about the news online. And The Globe and Mail is looking to transform its entire organization to foster a more participatory news process.

This week I head to Mesh to listen and join in on the conversations around making journalism once again an effective voice of the community it represents.

Two weeks after that, I’ll be at the MoSo Conference talking about how The Globe is using and mobile and social media to present more honest coverage of the news in this country.

And later this summer, news outlets like The Globe may actually help make your neighbourhood a better place.

So if you see me around during the next few months, let’s talk about how we can improve our communities.