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Should Reporters Create Online Communities For Their Beats?

In the last few years social media has become about more than Facebook and Twitter.

Other sites have been created that deal with a specific topic. Their membership numbers are small in number, but the topics discussed often garner a lot of activity because the people on the site are passionate about the subject.

When I think about subject-matter expertise in a newsroom, I think of a beat writer/reporter. In the newsroom, they are the subject-matter experts for the beat that they are assigned to cover.

They have a first-hand knowledge of the topic and the issues at hand and they have relationships with the people who are impacted or make decisions about the topic.

In the world of social media and online communities, they would be ideal community managers.

They could find a community management software or application and launch an online community around their beat. There are numerous companies out there with products to do just that.

Most companies charge, but for what a reporter would need, they could create a Ning community for $2.95 a month or $19 for a year.

It might be a project that they would have to undertake independent of the news organization that they work for, but it might not hurt to float the idea and see what their editors say.

Once they launch the community, they could promote it and raise awareness about it in your face-to-face conversations with people they meet and interview, promote it on their personal social media channels and blogs, and more.

I believe it’s something a reporter should seriously consider doing, if they don’t want to go the Facebook route, and seek a more intimate/close-knit environment to discuss the issues of the day that impact the beat or beats they cover.

Image credit: MyFCWMedia/Flickr

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