Thursday, April 21, 2011

SeeClickFix Journalism (JRC ideaLab Project)

It's been one year since Journal Register Company (New Haven Register's parent company) launched a partnership with SeeClickFix. Since then, there has been one itty bitty thing that's really nagged me about it. It's an excellent community tool that is under-utilized by most communities. At least in terms of what it is capable of.

But maybe that's our fault -- the local news organizations. It sits on many websites now (like the Register) as a widget, but that's not enough. News organizations have the same responsibility to it that residents do -- it's only useful to the community if we actually use it. Knowing it exists does nothing.
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What is it, exactly? Per Wikipedia:
SeeClickFix is a web tool that allows citizens to report non-emergency neighborhood issues, which are communicated to local government, as a form of community activism.
It creates a hard line between real people who want to get things done and the people who are responsible for getting those things done. It's an accountability machine. And when that hardline can't be established, a news organization can step in to help forge that hard line (with a headline).
And so, that's what the Journal Register Company ideaLab project I've been working on is: Experimenting with ways to Increase SeeClickFix user engagement, and users, by integrating SeeClickFix into the news flow. And by demonstrating it in a way that any newsroom in the world can replicate.

Granted, the Register newsroom is already ahead of the ball in terms of using SeeClickFix to generate stories, with or without me. What I'm doing is measuring what that work is worth, and helping steer the reporters and editors to better (and best) practices and helping them incorporate it into their workflow, so that it's not 'another thing they have to worry about or make time for'.

How do I mean to do that? Well like I said - it's not a website. It's a tool, and a social media platform. I'm going to demonstrate how reporters can use it, how editors can use it.. but most importantly, how the community can use their local newspaper to get even more effective use out of SeeClickFix.

That's not to say The Register doesn't already use it, or that other community news organizations across Journal Register Company and around the world haven't used it beyond it's widget. So let's start with that.

Send me your links to the best uses you've seen of SeeClickFix from news organizations. Leave 'em in the comments or email to me at cmarch@newhavenregister.com. My next post on Monday will be a list to some of the best ways it's already been used.

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