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What can indicator processes learn from news organisations?

Any serious news organisation today should also allow its community of readers to join in the editorial conversation - and many now have designed their websites to do just that. However, it took some time for news editors and publishers to get over the idea that the internet and user-generated content represented a threat to their publishing model.

To my mind, there are commonalities between newspapers and Criteria and Indicator reports for Sustainable Forest Management (or State of the Forest Reports). Both want their readers to see them as an authoritative source of information, neither wants their readers straying to competing reporting sources, and initially at least, both worried about the nature of content users would generate and whether or not it would be more damaging than useful. Therefore, I was intrigued when I read about a recent poll that asked media executives for ideas as to how big media firms could respond to the new "threats" posed by user-generated content. Suggestions included:
- Give users access to raw content such as interviews as a means of providing greater transparency and accountability
- Provide tools and become a platform for user-generated rather than firm generated content;
- redesign all content to be a conversation rather than a corporate monologue;
- treat advertising as content too;
- use new distribution forms, including peer-to-peer networks;
- adapt content forms and schedules to user demands.

Those who design indicator reports may want to pay attention to these suggestions, they could apply just as easily to indicator reporting web sites as they do to online versions of newspapers.

Comments

Here's some comments I

Here's some comments I received by email on this blog entry - Simon

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Regarding your blog about similarities between C&I process reporting and
newspapers, another thought occurred to me: there are parallels between
mergers in the news industry (that have led to improved coverage,
rationalization of costs, better stories for consumers, etc.), and
collaboration in SFM reporting, be it between established and
less-established processes, or between international bodies like ITTO and
FAO. The latter two organizations are working hard to rationalize reporting
on SFM at the international level in the FRA process led by FAO and in
ITTO's work to monitor the status of SFM in tropical countries. Working
together means we get more out of our (limited) resources and can produce
better stories for the consumers of SFM reports. Maybe the C&I
networks/websites/blogs we are setting up can help to encourage such
partnerships between established and emerging processes.