Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Thoughts on the WMRA community conversation . . .

About WMRA, our community, and you . . .

I've been heavily participating in, and reporting about, on-line socializing, conversing and information exchanging for  three or four years now, both for WMRA and NPR. My conclusion? The internet = the Blob. It's where we journalists go when we want to boldly go where none have gone before. There simply are no established rules (in the way that journalists have long understood them) out there on the information highway. 

That being said, there's no place I'd rather be professionally than out there with the rest of most of us--out there on the I.H., figuring out what's possible as we whiz along. It is a professional life based on what works, what gets the job done, what effectively delivers that which people want to know.

What excites me most about the I.H. is that it's a conversation. Out there on it, we can effortlessly (and cheaply) converse and exchange information with people everywhere. We are, indeed, the world. I can have ongoing conversations with people in California or Paris or Timbuktu without leaving the comfort of my chair.

But even more intriguing and exciting  for me  is the possibility for community-building (yes, that is such a hackneyed term)  in our own communal backyard.  -- i.e. the WMRA listening area.

Here's how I see it. WMRA listeners (I'm talking about you) know a lot about a lot of things. You have thought deeply on many subjects, read many books, created a lot of art and crafts, had lots of experiences. And over the last few years, it's occurred to me that  the more WMRA draws you into an active, on-going conversation with everyone else who listens to the station, the better job we're doing of adhering to our mission statement.
WMRA and WEMC are committed to fostering informed, engaged and culturally enriched communities.
We add, on the WMRA website that we can only do this with your help, and here's what I'd like to get across. I don't think that last phrase should be taken to mean only with your financial help (which, heaven knows, is what keeps us going).

I think it also means we need your thoughtful, informed, conversational help. We've been relying on it through the WMRA Civic Soapbox for years. But I think you have an awful lot more to offer the rest of us, through this blog and our relatively new Facebook page. All exist to draw you into what we've come to think of as the WMRA community conversation. We who work at WMRA think that the more you participate in the conversation with us-- bringing to it your knowledge, experience and informed opinions -- the stronger that conversation is.

Last week we began to integrate what you say on Facebook and this blog into what goes out on the air. Our first step has been to read comments on the air. We like the way it sounds. How about you?

Times have changed and we've changed, as well. WMRA is now, I think, best described as a community conversation. My question is how can we draw you -- yes, you -- further into that conversation?

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