Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Intranets session:
This morning's first session was on Intranets, hosted by Carolyn Edds. Participants were John Maines of the Sun-Sentinel and David Dwiggins of the Tennessean. Their intranets are impressive. "Sunspot" contains lots of searchable databases, and John demonstrated how to create database search forms using Web Matrix/Asp.net. Looks simple and easy to create a page from Access.
Interesting that both intranets are "Spots": the Tennessean's intranet is "NewsSpot". This intranet has entry forms so many people can update news and other sections. There are great projects pages, and a newsroom planning tool for assignments and projects.
Both said keeping up a source database, though, isn't going so well. This is something we've wondered about doing, and gotten resistance from reporters. This seems to have happened at these two papers, too, as reporters there won't update the list, according to John and David.


At 2:11 AM, Blogger David said...

To add some hard numbers to the SourceSpot thread: We have 3076 sources in the SourceSpot database. The bulk of these were entered in large batches rather than by individual reporters. (For example, by converting our listing of high school coaches, the minority source list, etc.)

Of these, 147 (about 5%) have been updated since 1/1/2004. This is actually a bit better than I thought when I answered the question on Tuesday, although still not great.

Five people have posted updates to SourceSpot since January 1. Here they are, along with the number they posted.

127 Preps Reporter A
8 Preps Reporter B
6 Regional Editor
4 Regional Reporter
2 Preps Reporter C

Interestingly, as I look at the numbers on this, the one department that seems to be updating it pretty consistently is the sports department. They are routinely updating contact information on high school coaches, although most of the updating is done by one person.

I don't have statistics on usage (as opposed to updating) handy, but will try to pull them out at some point.

I suspect that an aggressive campaign to increase awareness of this tool could make it more popular, and I also suspect that adding a way to tie it into people's personal Outlook address books would help. I also wonder if a "seeding" campaign where the library began seeking out and entering experts into the system might attract more reporters to it.

Ultimately, however, it is the culture of hoarding information -- or of simply not bothering to share it -- that must be overcome. As Wendy Craig puts it, "the best technology in the world won't contribute a dollar to the bottom line by itself. It has to be supported by enablers. And they all have to be driven by measurable benefits."

I think it's our challenge as information professionals to nudge our organizations toward a recognition that the benefits of sharing information are worth the effort required to do so.

--David Dwiggins


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