Newscaster Continues To Use Twitter To Connect With Community

from the keep-mocking dept

A few weeks back, I wrote about how a evening newscaster in Detroit named Stephen Clark was successfully embracing Twitter to break down the typical walls between newscaster and audience, and discovering some interesting things at the same time -- such as the fact that the community doesn't just want to talk to him, but to each other. One point I noted was that Clark still could go even further with his embrace of Twitter. He talked about how his use of Twitter had changed his perception from talking at people to talking to people -- and I wondered when it would reach the point of talking with people. It looks like it's getting there.

Clark himself alerted me to his latest experiment to better connect with viewers by asking them to pitch stories for the evening news -- and even to try to put together their own video and share it not just with him, but with the wider community that's come together:
Starting immediately I want you to find the stories that I will cover on Channel 7. I want you to find the good people doing good things in your community. I want you to tell me about the interesting characters and fascinating sights that make your communities special. I want you to stop complaining that all you see on TV is bad news and give me some good news.

That's it...pretty simple. Oh, there is one little catch. I don't want you just to tell me about it. I want you so show me. I want you to show the entire #backchannel. It doesn't have to be perfect and polished. Just take your flip camera or iPhone and shoot some video. Show us the pictures of why it is a compelling story. If you have a fascinating character that needs to be introduced to the #backchannel... and the Channel 7 audience... put him/her/it on camera and show us. If you can edit some sound, video, even your own narration into a short story, do it! Post the video on YouTube or Vimeo or wherever and hashtag a synopsis to the #backchannel.
When I first wrote about Clark, some of the usual skeptics scoffed that the nature of the conversation somehow wasn't substantial. But, of course, that missed the point. It's like the people who mocked blogging in the early days because they "don't care about your cat," or the folks who mocked Twitter because they "don't want to know what some stranger had for lunch." But the point is that all of this is totally voluntary. You don't follow the people whose lunch plans or cats you don't find interesting. But for all the cats and lunches you don't want to hear about, there's likely to be something or someone interesting that you do want to find out about.

In this case, perhaps the community sometimes came together over silly discussions -- such as the "Silverfish Hand Catch!" example we discussed in the first post, but it's those kinds of group bonding experiences that allows the community to build a relationship with each other, trust each other, and do something more interesting and compelling in the long run. I have no idea if this latest experiment will actually produce anything of value. And I already know that the same folks who complained about "nothing substantial" occurring in the #backchannel last time, will pop up to complain that now Clark is asking for "free labor" or something such as that. In the end, people who want to hate will always find something to complain about... and while they do, they'll miss the fact that some amazing new forms of communication have sprouted out right beneath their eyes while they were sneering about how beneath them it was.
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Filed Under: back channel, community, journalism, stephen clark, twitter

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  1. icon
    Jaws4theRevenge (profile), 13 Aug 2010 @ 6:01am

    "In the end, people who want to hate will always find something to complain about... and while they do, they'll miss the fact that some amazing new forms of communication have sprouted out right beneath their eyes while they were sneering about how beneath them it was."

    You said it, Mike. Haters gon' hate.

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