Colombia Reports will hold its first ever readers meeting Wednesday. The purpose of this meeting is to come to reader-endorsed changes in this website’s editorial policy.
Colombia Reports readers meeting
Wednesday, March 20
The meeting will be particularly interesting for me, the editor-in-chief, because it will be the first time I can actually discuss editorial
choices with people who can not be present at the daily newsroom meetings.
We have already tried to optimize this external input by being as responsive as possible on the website’s online debates, through email correspondence and on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook.
However, this is rather limited.
The thing about running a news website is that no matter how communicative you try to be, you’re still tied to a computer most the of time. Additionally, you end up talking extensively to people you wouldn’t have much to do with under normal circumstances (spokespersons, military commanders, rights defenders, politicians, etc.).
I personally try to keep track of reality by living in Medellin‘s downtown district and frequently visiting the city’s barrios, while promoting as many field trips for writers as realistically possible. I think I am able to somewhat assess reality better by purposely stepping outside of my comfort zone.
However, it would be false to claim that because of that I am able to witness and reproduce reality in an absolute sense. I may feel relatively comfortable in slums and can say I have seen things few others have, but it’s still relative. I do feel out of my element around Bogota‘s 93 Park and Medellin’s Parque Lleras for example.
Consequently and in spite of the efforts, my perception of reality is still based on limited personal observations, subjected to my personal bias, while only partially supported by corroborating evidence and often only indirectly or virtually compared with other individuals’ perception of reality.
Making Colombia Reports more of a group effort — by involving other journalists — broadens the organization’s perception, tempers bias, creates checks and balances, and should generally improve the reliability of what we do.
Taking things a step further — actively involving readers in this process — will only improve the reliability, amplify and decentralize our network of informants and experts, force us to defend choices we make before the people we pretend to serve and make sure that what we do fits exactly within our audience’s need for reliable information.
Whether this initiative proves successful decides on the response of the reader. Proactive readers have already forced changes and improvements over the past years; most recently we changed our Facebook policy after complaints we were flooding people’s timelines.
If meetings like this one work they should result in immediate editorial changes and I should plan a trip to Bogota to find out what people’s opinion is there. This way, I hope, we can increasingly serve the interests of our readers.
If you’re not able to come, please feel free to leave your feedback here. I look forward to hearing from you.