Saturday, February 03, 2007

The evolution of reader response




Now... an article I read on Poynter Online talks about a podcast that the San Francisco Chronicle recently started posting on its website. But this podcast isn't news... it's a recording of reader responses left on voicemail for reporters and editors.

You can listen to one reader's response to the newspaper's coverage of the Gavin Newson affair here.



This particular podcast wasn't the example used in the article. And quite honestly, I believe this reader had a good reason to call. No shame or humiliation thrust onto the reader, in my opinion.

But this was the first podcast (posted last week). Listen... I think you'll get a good laugh.



Someone just got a little bit carried away. The reader's point was that "pilotless drone" used in the subhead is redundant.

I think the goal of the podcast is to create more transparency between those working at the news organization and its audience. If you read the Poynter article, you'll see that other voice messages came in response to the one posted. Someone created a remix of the voice message and posted it on YouTube. Someone else cut up the message so that it could be played on a cell phone.

Anyone listening to this podcast knows that this isn't news. It's a way of letting audience members see how others are reacting. I believe open discussion and the sharing of ideas is great. But the "pilotless drone" podcast didn't really do anything for me... other than make me laugh. I think most listeners probably got the point before the first minute of the message was over.

Walters, the author of the Poynter article, makes some good points. The Internet is changing how reader response is being published and perhaps making it much easier for audience members to give feedback. However, in the heat of the moment, people may go a bit overboard. And should they reasonably expect that messages left on answering machines of news organizations, e-mails sent etc. can be published or broadcast? I'm not sure there is an easy answer to that question.

Even if people could do with more manners, publicly humiliating them on a podcast isn't the answer. As reporters and editors, we do not know what circumstances might have prompted audience members to leave impassioned messages. I think the screening process should be as rigorous as it is for "Letters to the Editor." You would only publish things that really contribute to discussion.

Mr. "Pilotless Drone" had a good point, but I do not think the Chronicle put the entirety of the message for educational reasons. I'm sure they got many hits on "Correct Me If I'm Wrong..." for that first week. Why? Because it's funny.

If I created my own sort of news website, perhaps I wouldn't feel at all bad for putting up a podcast similar to the "pilotless drone" one. Perhaps the San Francisco Chronicle is trying to revolutionize the way trusted news organizations operate when it comes to transparency and its relationship to readers. For myself, I am a bit wary of this particular podcast. I think it has the potential to become a mere source of entertainment, which reporters/editors and audience members alike can poke fun at others for their heated moments.

CY

5 Comments:

At Saturday, February 03, 2007, Blogger Medill Media Watch said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At Saturday, February 03, 2007, Blogger Medill Media Watch said...

I agree. That "pilotless drone" was put on there for a laugh. The Chronicle should use more discretion when posting reader repsonses. The point is not to humiliate either the reader or the newspaper. The point is to start having educated discussions about the news and the way that particular paper covers the news.

-JE

 
At Saturday, February 03, 2007, Blogger Medill Media Watch said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
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