Curiosity slightly maimed the cat

This past Wednesday, my Reinventing The News class was given the opportunity to hear from Stephanie Miller, Director of Digital Media for CBS Boston Television, who also works for WBZ-TV & WBZ-Radio

The topic of discussion focus mainly on WBZ’s efforts to combine the power of social networking media to their already established core audience, as well as a way to gain a younger audience that doesn’t normally choose to go to a source like WBZ for it’s news and information gathering.

In or around May of 2008, WBZ began a campaign they entitled “Declare Your Curiosity,” which invited listeners and viewers to submit things they were curious about, but didn’t really completely understand or know where to get the best information from. Executives, including Ms. Miller, are able to access this data in a rather impressive database that organizes everything into categories ranging from Sports, Politics to more local issues. Even going so far as to categorize “curiosities” by city and even county.

Such focused attention brings the central point Ms. Miller was trying to get across to us all, as budding journalists about to embark into the real world and into the current industry, one must start focusing much more at the community level, looking to see what the populations we live in really care about, and giving them the information and answers they seek. It would seem to some to be a relatively obvious thing, but not many sources do it, which makes this Curiosity campaign such an impressive start-up. Miller noted that since May of ’08, the program has gained close to 6,000 unique users on the website, alongside a sizable twitter following and facebook community, as well as a youtube channel full of promos.

The idea is very impressive, but would I honestly submit my own curiosity? Probably not, due to my incredibly limited knowledge of the in’s and out’s of this city enough to bother crafting something of interest. But could this been done well in my hometown? Definitely, it’s something that could and should catch on in as many media markets in the U.S. as possible. Crowdsourcing could very well be the revolution journalism has been looking for, not it’s time for them to just take it seriously, and WBZ/CBS seem to be off to the right start.

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