Beat Reporting With a Social Network: Wanna Try It?

NewAssignment.Net, the professional-amateur (pro-am) journalism effort spearheaded by NYU prof Jay Rosen, has a new project underway — and they need beat reporters to help.

On his blog PressThink today, Rosen describes the new project this way:”Maybe a beat reporter could do a way better job if there was a ‘live’ social network connected to the beat, made up of people who know the territory the beat covers, and want the reporting on that beat to be better. …This is probably best done on a blogging-style platform at an established news organization that can devote a pro reporter to work with a circle of ‘ams’ or contributors from outside the newsroom.

“…The tools for social networking are by now advanced enough that a live forum like that, nurtured by a clever reporter with flexible skills, could become the working heart of an online beat, which could then feed other platforms — the daily print edition, a weekly supplement or magazine, a podcasting schedule, a radio program.

“My target number is 12 — 12 beats and 12 sites from across the editorial landscape. …But the leadership of the news organization [also] has to be in on the deal from the start and committed to trying a networked approach in one beat.”

So far Rosen has rounded up seven or eight beat reporters to participate, so there’s still room for more. If you’re interested, contact David Cohn, director of distributed reporting at NewAssignment.Net. (More project details.)

It seems to me that if you’re bored or stagnated on your beat and can’t easily switch to a new one, this might be a fun way to shake things up.

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