AMERICAN journalists have recently launched a project called "beatblog ging." It involves at least 13 media organizations covering different beats , like science, technology, gaming and music, among others. This experiment inv olves reporters building their own "social networks" around their beats. It wil l use blogs as means to create this network. David Cohn of Wired's Li stening Post and a participant in this project, writes:
This experiment is taking place in 13 news rooms across the country . Each will be tackling the project from a different angle and as a result, the will come across unique obstacles.
This blog will collect lessons and mistakes they learn along the wa y. That will include methods they use to redefine their relationship with sourc es and new tools they implement to construct new forms of communication. The ho pe is that by the end of this project, other reporters can learn from what we'v e done and begin beat blogging themselves. While the 13 reporters who are highlighted directly to the right of this post a re at center stage of this blog, we will also find and interview leading thinke rs and journalists who are already out there doing this type of reporting on th eir own and tool makers who can offer us insight into how their web application s can benefit journalism by creating new online communities.Jay Rosen explains that beatblogging is a simple experiment that hopes to test a simple idea: "Maybe a beat reporter could do a way better j ob if there was a 'live' social network connected to the beat, made up of peopl e who know the territory the beat covers, and want the reporting on that beat t o be better." Cohn and Rosen's idea involves tapping the network of sources beat repoters col lect over the years. Personally, this idea is not new. As the proponents of thi s project say, beat reporters had been doing some form of "crowd sourcing" as t hey write stories. But they hope to take this to the next level, wherein source s, reporters, and the community at large can all contribute to and collaborate on the writing of the news. It's a radical shift in the idea of doing journalis m since the news agenda could be dictated by no less than the people these repo rters write about. Let's keep a close watch on how this experiment will turn out. Good luck, guys.