The Cyberbrains

Research and contemplation in new media

‘Sphere’ of Influence

Despite their increased popularity and use, news organizations still struggle with how to handle blogs. Do you ignore or embrace them? Do you make all your reporters write Thinking in the sunone or do you rely instead on the blogs that are already out there? The best approach that media critics and scholars have suggested is finding a way to bring them all together, and I was surprised to see that CNN.com has embraced the cause. (See what I’m talking about here.)  Using an application created by Sphere, a start-up that has been around for a little more than a year, CNN is aggregating blog entries that are related to its news stories on the same page.  CNN is just one of the more than 1 million content providers Sphere claims is has partnered with.

My first question is why I have just noticed this. It’s a great idea. In fact, it’s something I’ve been pushing for a long time. Interactivity theory is based on bringing the audience and the news providers together. But I also have to ask if Sphere isn’t typical of how the traditional media has responsed to citizen content.

Using the Sphere widget to automatically scour the ‘Net for related blog comments is almost too easy. In the true spirit of journalism, news organizations need to do more than just cobble reader responses together. The truly converged organization not only presents the blogs but also helps to interpret and contextualize them. It treats them as judiciously and visibly as any other important news sources. It doesn’t just tag them on the end of a story and force you click on a link just to see them.

I think it will be interesting to watch what other news organizations take advantage of the Sphere widget. With CNN blazing the trail, I expect to see it on other main stream sites soon. But will be even more interesting is to see how they use it. I fear that, like CNN, they’ll just tack the blog traffic on the end almost as an afterthought. Adding Sphere is a good first step, but it doesn’t become a viable component of a news Web site and doesn’t realize the potential the Internet has to bring news consumers together until the news organizations themselves give citizen comments their rightful place alongside or even integrated within news stories.

Advertisements

September 26, 2007 - Posted by | From The Cyberbrains, Hans Meyer

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: