I'm at the Mesh web conference in Canada, where I was invited to speak about how the BBC News website is dealing with the phenomenon of "social media" - blogs, stories and pictures from the audience, and interactivity in general.
I was on a panel with blogger Tony Hung (of Deep Jive Interests and the Blog Herald) and Paul Sullivan (who runs Orato, a citizen journalism project in Vancouver). The discussion's been blogged in a few places, including here and here.
I said two key strands of our day-to-day journalism – readers' comments and opinions, and newsgathering based on information from the audience – have become an indispensable part of what we do, and talked about some of the logistical and editorial challenges this presents. I'm not sure there was huge disagreement amongst us but there was a difference in emphasis – Paul saying editorial control had to rest with his contributors, me saying we'd want to retain final editorial responsibility for any story we were publishing – whoever had contributed it.
One blogger (Duncan Clark) wondered whether there should also have been a perspective from a commercial news organisation. Maybe there should - but I think it's certainly the case that most news organisations now recognise the need to include the audience's perspective and knowledge into their reporting, and most are doing it in one way or another.
Lots of other interesting speakers here – one who stood out for me was Tom Williams of givemeaning.com – a site which aims to channel people's desire to do something about some of the "bad news" stories which make up a lot of news coverage of events around the world, by allowing them to create and collaborate on projects easily online – "reducing the barriers separating people's generosity from the problems that need attention". We get a lot of feedback on certain stories from readers asking how they can help, so maybe this is one place they can now go.