The surprise presenter of the conference was, for me, Jon Greenberg from New Hampshire Public Radio.
The talked about his initiative to create a “Primary Place Online” where NHPR invited people to “Blog the Primaries”
Greenberg showed quotes from listeners/participants about on how they came away with a increased awareness of other people in their community.
Greenburg promoted these activites in Exeter NH where “people had a lot of opinions about politics.”
Politicians came to town and talked. And people blogged about who they met and what they heard and saw. Greenberg then displayed a smattering of people’s posts about their interactions with the candidates.
NHPR created what Greenberg called a “Blog Squad”. They recruited kids from a vocational school to capture video and asked them to post their footage to youtube. Then Greenberg posted the video on the blog, this helped to continue the discussion online. (His physical curation of this content, his committment to this project on every step of the way was truly inspiring).
He worked with the economist and with slate.com to get this coverage out where others could see it.
Greenberg offered this advice for anyone wanting to undertake this kind of effort:
Give participants a clear task
Give them strong guidance
Ask them specific questions to direct their responses
These people are not Journalists.
Let people know that you do not want an opinion piece.
Ask people to simply report what they saw.
You have to have obvious relevance.
You have to be focused.
And you have to support the people who are contributing to this kind of project.
Just as Rob Curly’s presentation at the IMA in 2005 had me saying, “Man! I want to do that.” Greenberg had me saying, “Man! I want my news director to be that excited, and that involved, in what we’re doing online.”