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Editorial Structure and Social Media

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John Battelle on the LA Times Wikitorial fiasco: But when I read about this, I instantly recognized a core problem with the approach: it was top down community, rather than bottom up….

Michael Kinsley, who created the site for the Times, was attempting to force a considered, editorial structure onto a set of readers who had yet to identify themselves or their own interests in any kind of structured way. It was doomed to fail, because communities can’t be created by editorial structures – editorial structures must be created by communities.

…It’s one thing for the LA Times to kill the trolls – that feels like censorship. It’s another for the community itself to do it.

The traditional editorial structure that we call journalism was created by a community, of journalists. Part of the problem all along is that readers were not part of this community. As new communities are formed and old ones evolve with social media, not only do editorial structures need to emerge from the bottom up, but the social contracts that bind the top and bottom.

Another prime example of how the LA Times needs to evolve it’s editorial structure is that the open letter to the editors goes unrecognized and unpublished. But that’s okay, the community will find a home elsewhere.

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Ross Mayfield is CEO and co-founder of Socialtext, an emerging provider of Enterprise Social Software that dramatically increases group productivity and develops a group memory.

He also writes Ross Mayfield’s Weblog which focuses on markets, technology and musings.

Editorial Structure and Social Media
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