Silverman embraces journalism as conversation

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Chronicle tech guru Dwight Silverman’s weekly computing column discusses the newspaper’s recent adoption of Movable Type software for its blogs, and the bigger picture for journalism.

Here’s a teaser:

Last week, began using a software program called Movable Type to publish three blogs that had been written using the system that generates our standard news stories. By switching to Movable Type, we now can do two things with our blogs that we could not before: publish comments from our audience and see what other sites are saying about our blog entries.

Those changes may seem incremental on the surface, but they are not.

By adding the ability for folks to comment immediately on what they read, the newsgathering and reporting process becomes two-way — bidirectional, as techies would say. The audience gives feedback, which can be incorporated in updates or future postings to the blog or in-paper stories. In addition, some readers may have more information on a topic to impart, adding to the value of that posting.

And by showing what other sites are linking to a blog entry — a feature known as trackback — readers can get multiple perspectives on a subject by following the links. Suddenly, it’s not just about what the Chronicle is saying about an issue — it’s potentially what the Web as a whole is saying.

This column should be read in its entirety. I hope members of the Chronicle editorial board read it carefully.

The blogs are a small, good start, but Silverman is really talking about the newspaper of the future — and our own might soon be at the forefront of putting together that (online) newspaper of the future. This is an exciting development that doesn’t seem to be generating the interest that one might expect from some of the new-media evangelists in the blogosphere.

Silverman offers more thoughts on his (newly interactive) blog.

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Kevin Whited is co-founder and publisher of blogHOUSTON. Follow him on twitter: @PubliusTX