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Archive for June 3rd, 2011

When you tell the family you have a new job, the initial response, of course, is to congratulate you. If your new title is director of community engagement and social media, the second response is: What does “community engagement” mean?

I’ve been answering that question some since joining the Journal Register Co. (and answered the same question last year when I went to TBD to lead community engagement efforts).

Journalists aren’t as puzzled by the phrase as relatives, but I get questions from journalists, too. Some are skeptical, as journalists tend to be (and should be) of any buzzword. Some are enthusiastic about the general topic, but unsure what all it entails. Some suspect that community engagement is more about marketing than about journalism. Some fear that community engagement is one more chore stacked upon the already heavy workload of journalists in shrinking newsrooms.

My new Journal Register colleagues have been quite supportive of my new responsibilities. They are asking excellent questions about what we will be doing together to deepen engagement with the communities we serve.

I’m going to address all these questions in a series of blog posts that probably will take several weeks. Today I will provide an overview of community engagement. In coming weeks, I will dig into the various engagement techniques that I will cover only briefly here.

Let’s start with a tweet-length definition: Community engagement = News orgs making a top priority to listen, to join & lead conversation to elevate our journalism.

Update: Jeff Jarvis and Matt Terenzio said on Twitter that they thought I should have used “enable” instead of “lead” in the tweet above. I agree that enabling conversation is an important aspect of engagement (and I’d say it’s included in good leadership). But I’m not sure it’s more important than leadership. The community is pretty well able to converse already and is already doing so. But I’m pro-conversation, so I welcome this crowdsourced editing help:

Community engagement = News orgs make top priority to listen, to join, lead & enable conversation to elevate journalism.

I’ll elaborate on some key words there: (more…)

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