How many communities are too many communities

The most amazing part of my fellowship with the Reynolds Journalism Institute is how it has given me so much access to people who know how to build communities online. For a couple of years I have beaten my head on the wall trying to figure out why I haven’t been good at this process.

The simple fact: I have too many jobs. As a professor, newsroom manager, fellow, grad school advisor, technology and policy committee member, technology faculty council member… mom, wife, dog owner, home owner… I could go on and on and on. To build a community I would need to shuffle priorities and lighten my load.

This is a big reason why Smart Decision ’08 didn’t take off as a community. It’s why I’m not pushing too hard to publicize my current economy project. I had initially thought a collaboration of traditional media content that is aggregated into a single site would bring enough viewers to develop a community. After working with Jane Stevens and watching her project grow, it makes more sense to develop the community and supplement it with traditional media aggregation. Jane is working on creating a structure of web-based health communities that focus on specific topics. She’s also helped launch a journalism web community called the RJI Collaboratory. These communities need time, attention and commitment.

While I have tried to develop my Money Commons site, I have also taken all of my lessons learned to KOMU. I have changed the way we use Twitter. We have launched a social networking community. We’re trying to find better and more effective ways to use our Facebook page. I have had a chance to share what I’ve learned about social networking to media outlets and many more faculty and students than I evercould have talked to if I was working exclusively out at the television station. I’m so darn lucky for this opportunity. I hope to have better ideas on the steps to take towards expanding my Money Commons community. My time with RJI is coming to a close, but I’m going to continue to look to a future of helping the Missouri School of Journalism prepare for an unknown but exciting future.

2 comments ↓

#1 Steve Cusumano on 04.07.09 at 12:17 am

We’re going through some similar growing pains with our online communities as well. We recently started using Twitter, but getting reporters/editors/management to view it as more than a RSS feed is hard. Same with facebook. We also recently launched My.BillingsGazette.com, an online portal with our site, but I get the impression the hope is that readers will contribute most/all of the content without interaction from the newsroom.
Any tips for how you’re forcing the changes and building up reputable, functional online social communities back at Mizzou?

#2 Jen Reeves on 04.09.09 at 4:17 am

Hi Steve,
I have to say it’s impossible to “force” change… That’s why I’ve held presentations and talks to share why understanding these social media tools is important. One of the best pieces of advice I’m carrying with me as I launch new efforts to connect with mid-Missouri is how you or your organization should be on a first-name basis with the first 1,000 members of your social network before it can take off. That means you need a very honest commitment to those social network efforts. I don’t have the answers on getting complete buy in – but I’ll try to blog about my attempts as I work on it!

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