We’re all in this together

A lot of people have emailed me about my remarks, considered provocative by some, at the Interactive Media Conference in Las Vegas. Here’s what I said:

“We trust people to drive moving vehicles at high speeds on our highways. We arm them and ask them to fight wars in the name of democracy. We put life and death decisions in their hands as juries deciding the fate of their fellow citizens. But we don’t trust them to participate in the news and information that impacts their lives? What’s up with that?”

Then I told attendees, mostly managers of news web sites, that “putting a wall between you and your audience is the dumbest thing I have ever heard.”

In our “debate,” my old friend Arizona Daily Star publisher John Humenik generally supported the idea of “user-generated content,” but had grave concerns. “UGC on our site is essential — but not if it threatens the credibility of the environment it is built on,” he said. “Don’t allow your news brand to be somebody else’s graffiti wall.”

Why do newspaper publishers always seem to frame the debate over participatory media in terms of isolated bad behavior on their online forums — a problem that is easily managed these days?

Publishers can only discover opportunities that are as good for business as they are for democracy when they change the environments they’ve built and begin to respect their audiences.

You may also like