Howard Owens, my colleague as GateHouse Media's digital media director, sent an interesting email today to our online editors offering them hope that we're on the right track with our local sites. As he puts it, we've embarked on an effort to evolve the model of "journalism as a conversation" with our WickedLocal network of smaller communities in the Northeast. "That involves both creating a place for participation and getting news online faster." Our most recent validation came from an unlikely source of comfort: Lisa Williams, a blogger in one of our local communities who gained national prominence from writing about events in Watertown, and thus disrupting the print product. She's now feeling a little competitive heat from GateHouse's online effort there, and said so to the Online News Association conference in Toronto. Her talk generated this post on Journalistopia.com.
Money quote: "When Williams began H20Town, she took delight at working faster than the local newspaper and gaining an audience “because I could hit 'Enter' first.” But now, she says, the local newspaper is publishing breaking news and implementing more Web 2.0 tools."
One thing the author took away from the presentation, coincidentally, was that news organizations need to steal a page out of the playbook of software developers and start behaving more like them -- opting for rapid prototyping and development, designing a few important features and not spreading themselves too thin. Certainly that's a page out of our own playbook, and an important characteristic of becoming a Web 2.o company.