Washington Post – 10 Principles

Jeff Jarvis writes that the Washington Post, which recently posted its 10 Web Principles needs an 11’th – a commitment to collaborate with readers.

His argument seems to be that the paper is still casting its self in the center and hasn’t come completely to grips with its role as an institution shaping the relationship it and its journalists have with the community and their discussion of the news.

While it’s true that they haven’t defined that fully, principle 5 says

“We embrace chats, blogs and multimedia presentations as contributions to our journalism.”

While principle 7 says

“We recognize and support the central role of opinion, personality and reader-generated content on the Web.” 

That same principle goes on to instructing journalist to separate opinion from reporting.

To me these principles are a good start – because they commit the Post to an integrated Web and Print strategy – breaking stories in whatever medium is ready first (typically the Web) at a time when advertising revenue to cover this change not shifted as markedly as the papers reporting will.

While it would have been nice to see principles specifically related to user engagement – it is also no surprise that these are not listed – both because this could be the basis of a competitive strategy but more likely because they’re learning how this fits with their role as a news (not opinion) organization.

What’s interesting is the Post has developed an ad-hoc social network around the active commenting on their articles. This community could be the source for experts, opinion leaders and sources for Post reporting – if mapped and harnessed. It’s this type of engagement with a social network – that likely doesn’t define it’s self as a social network – that is likely at the core of Jeff’s post.

It’s a set of relationships with audience that no media has effectively defined – which explains why the is no 11th Principle – yet.

I’d expect the Post will be among the first to identify the issues and define the mechanism that move readers from commenting to contributing journalistically. I also hope they give some thought to how they can build the name recognition those commenting develop into an engaged social community that connects around news and story development.


One thought on “Washington Post – 10 Principles

  1. I think the Post is a leader when it comes to social media… much more so than the other mediasaurs (including NYT). It has built a culture that engages you in the dialogue – you don’t fear commenting. Similarly in Canada, ITbusiness.ca does a great job at packaging their reports with reader comments. A few times, I’ve had public conversations with editorial writer Shane Schick. These live on in google-perpetuity…

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