Newsroom implications for discussion summaries
GrowUp, renamed from Evolution, does not require a great deal of technological skills for the discussion summaries to be useful in the newsroom, even if understanding how the system works might require more technological sophistication.
However, it would require a significant shift in newsroom culture to be successful. An important aspect of GrowUp is the creation of succinct summaries of what readers discussed, their points of confusion, and requests for further information (think about a wikipedia article about a discussion, but with a stricter process for summarizing content). Newsrooms would then be in the position to pay more attention to the sentiments of their readership as expressed on comments. No longer would the comment section necessarily be dismissed because of the sheer number of comments.
GrowUp thus enables a news cycle that is responsive to reader comments – newsrooms could allocate reporters and other resources to creating followup articles that were inspired by some aspect of the conversation that unfolded on a prior article. This potential to comprehensively integrate reader opinion into the news cycle would surely be alarming to some, particularly given how horrendous individual comments have sometimes been in the past. Based on what Shazna suggested about how the small interactive department of the AP has to “incubate” these new directions, for GrowUp to become well integrated into the newsroom, I believe the interactive department would need to spearhead the demonstration of value of the summaries and followup articles. This might help incentivise staff outside the interactive department to spend a little time skimming the discussion summaries as they consider the next story to report on. Currently, I don’t have a specific plan for how to explicitly support these champions of new process, but as the system develops, this will certainly be an important issue to consider.
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