Conversation Agent - Valeria Maltoni - Stories That Work - Actionable News with New Media

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RSS is one tool. OK, we've got RSS. No action.

Local news is mostly fluff with sensationalism escalating everything to pump up the volume. Raise the volume high enough and people tune out. What I know is that people become sensitive to issues presented in a human fashion -- like the "Frozen Pea" fund on Twitter to benefit cancer patients. Story -- Susan Reynolds has breast cancer and has to have surgery; she shares; people listen in and spread the news; the fund is activated. Actionable. Would you have been able to predict that so many people would tune in and do something?

There are still choices to be made. I don't have all the answers here, it's worth asking the question nonetheless. Why give news and no way to act?

First, while we're usually invigorated to hear of the people who are doing great work, we can't live on that. We don't WANT to live on that -- witness the short life of newspapers that tried to project just 'good news'. Second, it's possible that part of the impact of that slot at the end of the newscast is because of the contrast with what's come before; we like hearing of the scoutmaster who raised the test scores of his troop, but when he's just another good news story, he blends into the background. To make it memorable, its got to be massive or unique.

Second, you're talking about transforming the news from a broadcast medium to a narrowcast one. Tell me about things I care about; tell me about things where I can make a difference. That's as distinct from articles such as the Walter Reed scandal, where I care, but not deeply, and where I can't make a difference even if I do.

Putting those together, you're talking about creation of a micronews format that talks to ME about the things I care about, just enough to keep me informed, and connects me with sources for further information or action. Sound like an RSS reader?

@Chris -- and I believe they do, if they are willing to listen and re-imagine the news business. There is tremendous opportunity for editors, journalists and reporters to make a difference.

@Joe -- there is also a lot of information that although it may not be considered "on air" ready news, it can be covered in depth to open new doors for citizens and communities. One of the reasons why local and micro reporting has taken off is that they serve more closely their publics. "Man bites dog," oh boy!

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