What I heard about community news at Block by Block

Last week’s gathering of community news folks, the Block by Block summit in Chicago, left me both psyched about the opportunities I have to make a contribution to the evolution of journalism and overwhelmed about which direction to head. (Check out the blog for the event for oodles of info.)

Here’s what I know for sure:

The word “journalism” itself is problematic. Last year sometime, I tired of the “who’s a journalist” debate and started reframing it with my students in terms of “what is journalism,” figuring it was easier to define a product than a job description. I still find that to be true. But these days, even deciding whether to label a product as a piece of journalism is feeling like a waste of time. What makes an eggplant recipe journalism? If it’s accompanied by a professionally written story about eggplants? If it’s shared by a professional communicator? If it’s published by a person who claims to be a journalist? If there’s a news peg? The discussion becomes useless quickly. Can we just skip it altogether? (Denise Cheng of The Rapidian has a great post up that touches on this.)

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bxb2010: Session on community engagement

I’ve been in Chicago today for Block by Block, an RJI event that brought together community news practitioners. A blog for the gathering will over the next day or two reflect the rich conversations that have been going on. I was the designated blogger today for a breakout session on community engagement (remembering that I/we don’t really know what that means!). Here’s my summary of the conversation.

If you’d like to get a sense of the event, you can also check out my Delicious bookmarks of the participating sites and follow the backchannel discussion on Twitter.

This was originally posted on the blog of the Reynolds Journalism Institute, where I am a 2010-2011 fellow.