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If you can't beat 'em: ABC News and Now Public

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Chris Vallance | 00:33 UK time, Thursday, 23 November 2006

ABC News and the excellent citizen journalism/social news site Now Public have teamed up to gather opinions about what should happen next in Iraq. A worthy project and I think we're going to see more of this kind of collaboration as the media's enthusiasm with user generated content continues.

As Robin (Cybersoc/BBC) pointed out in his post about Oh My Newsnight collaborative ventures of this kind have the advantage that unused content doesn't sit idly in programme inboxes gathering dust and building resentment on the part of contributors. For the websites that people post to it creates an incentive for users to create and post content too. They are enhanced and promoted, and the broadcasters get the video/audio they want. It's a win-win situation in business flip-chart-speak.

But note that for mainstream broadcasters it is quality not quantity that really counts. We can't actually use 1000 or 2000 videos - we simply don't have time in our linear world. This may change if we become like YouTube..but my guess is we will simply end-up posting our content to YouTube like services, not replacing it. (see Jeff's post about CBS)

With that in mind it's worth stating my belief that small scale collaboration is just as important. With regards to Pods and Blogs I'm really gratified that I've got to know a number of the bloggers and podcasters who've contributed personally. Some of those collaborations have produced (I think) really exceptional content, and it's been fun too. Perhaps it's only working on a short weekly show that gives us this luxury but I hope it reasures those informal small scale networks and groups of bloggers and podcasters that having 20 close collaborators willing to submit stuff can be all you need if they're the right people in the right places.

Not that I'm at all critical of what Now Public are attempting here. It's one of the most significant media developments I've seen in a while and I bet there will be some compelling TV that results.

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