editor on the verge

Online musings from the newsroom and beyond . . . by Yoni Greenbaum

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Don’t tell them it’s training, just say you’re chatting

January 24th, 2008 · 1 Comment

So I’m guessing that your newsroom, like many, is populated with reporters who are comfortable working, eating and even sleeping at their desks. So it’s no surprise that, when you try to hold a brown bag lunch meeting or a brain-storming session, only the usual suspects attend. Increasing participation is a challenge we have all struggled with.

Now might be a moment to drag out that maxim “if the mountain will not come to Mohammed, Mohammed will go to the mountain.”

My suggestion is that you still host those discussions, those meetings and many more gatherings and sessions, but do it in a venue that takes advantage of the habits or your reporters. How can you do this, you ask? Two words — Chat Rooms.

Just six-months-old, ChatMaker.Net allows you to create “very own exclusive, invitation-only chat room.” Simply select a name for your room and the site generates a web address that you can share with only those you want to invite. Once inside, participants can click on the generic name that site assigns them and enter their own name. From there, you’ve got your own online discussion.

While ChatMaker does not allow you to share files or pictures, it does recognize links, which I think justs ads to it’s strengths. And unlike many Instant Messaging applications that allow for group chats, you don’t need to be a member of any particular service or sign-up for anything; and, it is completely free.

I believe that this approach can work in your newsroom because, as I previously said, it plays to the habits of your staff. Think about it, they are already IMing with their friends and/or colleagues. They’re sending their own emails on, say Gmail, at the same time that they’re working on their stories. This is the multitasking generation; don’t ask them to do something different, just have them add another task.

Tags: Beat Development · Best Practices · Editors · Innovation · Reporting · Tools · Training

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Sean Polay // Jan 24, 2008 at 8:16 am

    I like the simplicity of ChatMaker. Very nice, find, Yoni.

    Meebo is another good option, too, particularly if you already have people using it because the IT department has blocked IM software. The one additional feature it has that is worth noting is you can invite people to the room — which you can make public or private — from your buddy lists.

    Obviously, Yoni, you’ve keyed in on the primary necessities for this idea to have legs: Whatever is used needs to be Web-based and one-click intuitive. Don’t require anyone to download any software. They may not have the necessary permissions to install it on their machines anyway.

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