CAPE TOWN: One report of the discussions here at the World Editors' Forum had the surprising headline that the BBC's director of global news got his news from the social networking site Facebook rather than the BBC's own news services.
Well, not quite. But sites like Facebook, My Space and Twitter are presenting the editors of the world's newspapers and broadcasting stations with a real challenge. I was invited here to talk about the BBC's approach to what's awkwardly called User Generated Content or citizen journalism.
In some ways it's simple. News organisations have always interviewed eye witnesses to events and used their pictures if available. Technology now means people can e-mail their experiences and pictures in their thousands to us, and they do. Equally, for decades the phone-in has been a staple format for many radio stations, allowing the opinions of the public to be given a platform. Today, the same thing can be achieved by running blog comments alongside news coverage online.
It's in the area of what's called networked journalism that the biggest opportunities may lie. Whatever subject we choose to report, someone in our audience - let alone the collective wisdom of the audience - will know more about it than we do. If we can use the new technologies to embrace their expertise it can only strengthen our journalism, and hopefully our relationship with the public.
But doing so is more complicated. Editors at this forum are worried about how to verify what they are offered, and how to pay for it, let alone how to make enough revenue to support their organisations. Looking ahead there's wide agreement that where today they are talking about blogs, tomorrow it will be the networking sites like Facebook which is currently enjoying huge growth. And yes, last weekend I did join it.
And in 48 hours I had connected with the editor-in-chief of Reuters, two internet entrepreneurs in the US, a couple of newspaper columnists and a number of the BBC's own staff. My colleague Rory Cellan-Jones, the BBC's technology correspondent, has also joined in the hope of understanding this new phenomenon although, as he reports, with mixed results. For news, however, I will still rely on the BBC.