Engaging communities with social media

For anyone interested in how the new media is shaping community news media:

  • Engagement is key – robust and frequent content begets more content and whets the interest of potential contributors.
  • Citizen journalism is a field that has a high turnover. Fewer than one in 10 of those trained will stick around to be regular contributors and, even then, may only be “regular” for a short period of time.
  • Projects built on the grit and passion of a particular founder or corps of founders have created the most robust models for short- and long-term sustainability.
  • Community news sites are not a business yet.
  • Facebook, Twitter and other social media tools are ushering in a New Age for Community News, creating robust recruiting, marketing, distribution, collaboration, reporting and funding opportunities.

Citizen scientists go fly a kite

In many parts of the world citizens do not have accurate maps of their communities and lack access to original satellite data. The mapping may not be up to date or the resolution of the maps high enough quality to answer legal questions concerning native title or the true impact of an environmental disaster, such as the Gulf oil spill. Grassroots Mapping involves balloons, kites and other simple tools for citizens to produce their own imagery, which they then own.


The science of livestock welfare

Livestock welfare is again gaining momentum on the political and social agenda, although it never really went away. Aspects of livestock production are opposed by some for ethical, health and sustainability reasons.

In 2006, when working in communications at CSIRO, I produced an animal welfare edition of Livestock Horizons (left) which provided scientific information about the welfare of livestock in Australian production systems.