ONE ADVANTAGE of a virtual newsroom for Ireland would be comments back to the writers. I don't know if that's a major deliverable for Damien Mulley's Newsroom.ie but it's essential in my book. Several prominent Irishblogs don't have working comments. The comments section falls over or the comments get edited without a clear set of guidelines. Poynter's writers have made this functionality an essential element when talking about effective online sources of local information. Newsroom.ie needs to take this structure on board from the outset.
News-rolling has been tried before with some notable success. Rocky Mountain News editor John Temple helped roll out YourHub.com, the Denver newspaper's citizen-journalism initiative. This online space is populated by citizen-submitted content. Some of the material is rolled into the Thursday editions of the Rocky Mountain News and the Denver Post. Here are two pieces of advice from people who have been there, done that:
- Editors need to keep their hands off contributed content for the online version--except when issues of taste and defamation arise.
- Editors need to know they are the ones addressed by incoming solicitors' letters.
Dick O'Brien points out the existence of two independent Irish blog aggregators and notes "there's a gap in the market for an edited one". This blogzine would consolidate "interesting posts from Irish bloggers and categorise them. For example, you could feature what everyone is saying about the IRA annoucement one week, or what everyone says about the Rossport Five the next". That starts to sound like a roll-your-own Sigla magazine and it would have greater value than Yet Another Groupblog, especially if it fingered text, audio and photos from Irish contributors.