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Paul Balcerak: Don’t just ask for news material via social media – offer help

Assistant editor of new media for a local news publisher in the US, Paul Balcerak looks at how a bread-and-butter bad weather story can use social media for more than just crowdsourcing images from readers by sharing information and answering their questions:

Essentially, I was trying to flip the information flow around (again), by asking, “What do you need?” and hyperfocus it down to an individual level. To me, that’s what social media is anyway: connecting one-to-one to help each other. If even just one person @ replied me and asked about where to find a place with power and free WiFi, that’s one person helped (and I’m betting a few more people would’ve been interested in the information anyway).

Full post at this link…

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  • http://paulbalcerak.com Paul Balcerak

    Thanks for the link!

    One of the things I forgot to mention in my post is SeeClickFix, which is a service that lets people post problems they encounter in their neighborhoods (potholes, “dangerous” unlit areas, etc.) and then lets other people vote on those problems to give them more prominence. It’s like Digg for “stuff that’s wrong with your neighborhood.”

    Consciously or unconsciously, this is sort of what I was going for: give us a problem, we’ll do our best to track down someone who can help you fix it. I was just looking to do it on at a much faster pace and with relation to a specific event (re: “disaster”).

    I’m definitely going to experiment more with this and I’d like to see more people do it, too. Newsbrands have done a fairly good job of getting away from “we’ll tell you what the news is” and I think soliciting complaints/requests is another great way to democratize the news.

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