Boston Globe reporter on Reddit: ‘It’s amazing how many trends and stories start there’
A Reddit thread on credit-card number thefts in Boston attracted Dan Adams, a part-time reporter for the Boston Globe, who reported it out for the newspaper.
Reddit being Reddit, Adams' act of enterprise drew a complaint: "I sorta feel like it's not cool if there are media people lurking just to scoop a story," one Redditor wrote.
Adams replied, noting he participates in discussions on Reddit daily. "I don't come here just to stick a news-extracting syringe into your hivemind, take your content, and leave without saying thanks," he wrote.
I subscribe to /r/Boston because I live in Boston, and I love Boston. ... /r/Boston, you are my neighbors, and it's my job to inform you, listen to you, hold your officials accountable, and put an end to wrongdoing that affects all of us. I subscribe because this is where some members of my community come to talk. Why shouldn't a journalist seek out such a forum? Also, to be totally frank, this is a public forum. If you don't want any old journalist reading something you write, don't put it here.
Reached by email, Adams, who is a student at Emerson College, tells Poynter the credit card theft story was the first "concrete story" he's gotten from Reddit, "though I have found ideas for stories there many times." The site, he writes, is "a great boot camp for me as a writer."
A funny or relevant one-sentence post can get upvoted and seen by thousands of people. An overwrought treatise can get downvoted and lost in the wall of text--unless it's really, really good. Writing for such a capricious audience makes you efficient with your prose and deft at accounting for the perspective of your readers before you publish.
In his email, Adams writes that he thinks "it's a positive sign of changing culture that several top digital people at the Globe emailed me to say 'nice work.'" Redditors, he writes, "may not be demographically representative of Boston as a whole, but it's amazing how many trends and stories start there, then percolate to the mainstream media a few days or weeks later."
I can't think of any reason not to pull a chair up to that table! You just have to have a thick skin and be willing to engage in hand to hand combat with readers who really care... Or who are trying to troll you.