As j-schools struggle to keep the skills they teach relevant to the fast-changing media landscape, hundreds other journalists and students have mobilized to teach and support each other informally through a new online social network.
Wired Journalists was recently created by Ryan Sholin of GateHouse Media, using Ning (a free set of tools for rolling your own social network). As of this morning, the group has 778 members. Many of them appear to be 20-somethings (j-school students or recent grads) — but there are some gray-hairs there, as well as some notable luminaries from the field.
This effort only just began, so it’s too early to gauge its true value. In my experience, it takes about two years for any online community to gel and define itself. Most social media efforts peter out quickly — there’s a high burnout rate. Also, the Ning interface is a bit clunky and ugly. But at least it’s not as cluttered as Facebook has become.
That said, I think the general concept of informally facilitating networking, mentoring, and brainstorming, and knowledge-sharing through a free online community that no journalism org in particular “owns” is a good one. This one is worth checking out. It’s a different mix of voices than I usually see in these discussions — which makes it especially intriguing and refreshing.