Innovations in Journalism – ReportingOn

reporting on image

1) Who are you and what’s it all about?

I’m Ryan Sholin, I work at GateHouse Media in the US, I’m a graduate student at San Jose State University working on a degree in Mass Communications, and I’ve been blogging at ryansholin.com for three years now, mostly about the future of newspapers and journalism education.

The idea for ReportingOn came to me as I saw more and more tools for journalists to share what they were reading, but very few to share what they were writing.

I’m all for aggregating links and social bookmarking – I use Google Reader, Delicious, and even Twitter as my filters for the onslaught of information and news out there on the Web – but I saw two key connections left to be made.

The first connection links reporters with a common beat to one another. If I’m reporting on local alternative energy start-ups in Silicon Valley, and you’re reporting on local alternative energy start-ups in Boston, we could mutually benefit from sharing angles and ideas.

The second connection links readers with beat reporters. If readers find themselves wishing for more reporting on local alternative energy start-ups in general, there should be a place to express that.

So I call ReportingOn “the backchannel for your beat.”

This isn’t about the craft of journalism – this is about the nuts and bolts of finding angles, sources, and data to bolster local news reporting.

2) Why would this be useful to a journalist?

Sometimes in newsrooms, we find ourselves isolated from the rest of the journalism world. Our local peers are often the competition. When we meet up with colleagues from out of town, it’s at conferences or email lists or websites based on methods and craft, but rarely actual reporting.

ReportingOn will give journalists an easy way to connect with others working the same beat across the state or across the continent.

3) Is this it, or is there more to come?

Oh, there’s more to come.

What’s live right now is a simple script that ties into Twitter. Anyone with a Twitter ID can send a tweet to reportingon (@reportingon in Twitter parlance) and it will show up at reportingon.com and in the reportingon Twitter stream.

The next step will be a site, most likely built in Drupal, where any journalist can sign up and post short updates that answer the question “What are you reporting on?”

The fun part is surfacing the replies in a way that makes it easy to find your peers. The taxonomy system in a CMS like Drupal makes it simple to surface, for example, all the posts about alternative energy.

So imagine a site where the front page has a few lists: recent posts, recent topics, and popular topics.

The ‘popular topics’ list might have entries like: “231 journalists are reporting on alternative energy”. Clicking on 231 gets you a list of the journalists; clicking on alternative energy takes you to the page where everything posted about alternative energy is aggregated.

A second piece of the site will allow “readers” to vote on what topics they would like to see more … reporting on.

Once the site is built and users are showing up, I could see adding a Facebook application that would let users display recent posts from the topic of their choice on their Facebook profile.

4) Why are you doing this?

I saw a need to connect reporters to each other. So much local news lacks context, lacks a clear idea of where a local event fits into a larger trend, whether we’re talking about drunken driving or school funding or foreclosures.

Twitter has been a big inspiration, as well. I’ve been impressed at how casual, public conversation can be packed with information and benefit to anyone willing to ask questions and give answers freely.

Plus, I’m planning to launch the next stage of ReportingOn as a part of the requirements to finish my graduate degree.

5) What does it cost to use it?

Absolutely nothing.

6) How will you make it pay?

This is a non-profit endeavour as far as I’m concerned. That said, I’m actively looking for grants to help with server costs, advertising, and promotion.

8 thoughts on “Innovations in Journalism – ReportingOn

  1. Honesty would help.

    Be honest.

    You’re just another academic trying to find a way to parlay others thoughts into your own research and a chance for a college/university teaching post by making the clueless professors and department heads think you know about new media.

    Nothing new about you. Just the new academic seeking a job.

  2. Ryan Sholin

    @honesty:

    Um, that’s a pretty bizarre comment to leave here.

    Feel free to do a little reporting on who I am and what I do, and you’ll find that I’m far from an ‘academic seeking a job.’

    I’ve been working full-time in new media for longer than I was taking classes in graduate school, and although I might go back to school to get a Ph.D. someday, that’s not on the agenda for the next 10 years or so.

    Check in with me in 2018; maybe your description of me will fit the bill then.

  3. Ryan Sholin

    I’m amused to be feeding a troll in this odd setting, but really, what I’ve done in a short period of time stands on its own and needs not be defended.

    I’m not going to edit your anonymous comments for accuracy, logic, or sanity, but thanks for playing.

    Show up at my blog sometime and try the same game.

  4. Ryan Sholin

    @Honesty – Honestly, I hope you’re not a professional journalist.

    The three inaccuracies in the second to last graf of your last comment prove that you haven’t even bothered reading the first paragraph of the post you’re commenting on.

    Good job, ace.

    I’ll invite you a second time to show up at my blog, ryansholin.com, and make a comment like you do in this quiet corner.

  5. Honesty would help.

    I looked at your site Ryan Sholin.

    What a bunch of sycophants. Everyone loves everyone else and gives all their buddies an “attaboy.”

    None of the stuff you’re making such a fuss about is anything but a techie toy. None of these will make newspapers a nickel and I would bet you don’t even have a business plan for any of these playthings.

    I suspect not one reporter at any of the Gatehouse papers has ANY time to worry about finding background or comparing notes with another reporter.

    When there is only one or two reporters, are there even beats or is it just run the handouts and the items supplied by the walkins?

    Of course in the Gatehouse model, it’s pie suppers and knitting groups or the weekend staple of street fairs with lots of dog and kid pictures. The New York Times or Wall Street Journal, Gatehouse reporters aint.

    This is my last post here — Oliver Luft keep deleting those comments. That’s the way a true journalism site should work. Let no one speak unless they agree with you or your selected.

    Just owning a domain name and having some server time doesn’t make you, Oliver, a journalist.

    And Ryan, I hope all your homeboys and homegirls at your site continue to sing Kum Ba Yah and hold hands as they watch real reporters lose their jobs.

    On the Internet you can be anything you want to be. Ryan you have proven it. You imagined yourself a newspaper guru and now all your sycophants tell you that you are.

  6. Mike Reed

    I can’t take Ryan Sholin’s work or comments seriously and others should make the same decision.

    He works for a company, Gatehouse Media, where the stock has gone from more than $20 to 7 cents — yes, that 7 cents.

    Sholin should spend more time working for Gatehouse and less on his promoting his thoughts and pontifications.

  7. Pingback: ReportingOn – end of Knight News funding and the next stage | Journalism.co.uk Editors' Blog

Leave a Reply