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.