Some very easy social networking for journalists

One of the very best — and easy — resources I’ve acquired to help my understanding of the digital realm was to join a social networking site just for journalists — people grappling with the same issues and sharing their ideas and experiences in online journalism.

It’s been a little more than a year since I joined Wired Journalists, and it has been a vital source of information and exchanging ideas. Its membership has grown to more than 3,000.

As in other social networks geared for professionals — especially LinkedIn — the true value is in the groups, and there are so many of them that any journalist ought to find something useful: from photography to multimedia, and from freelancers to beat specialties. And plenty other topics of interest. It’s a great way to find out who’s involved in your journalistic specialty online.

You can post blogs, videos and photos, leave messages for other members, and get help with Web tutorials and skills.

I write this not just to promote that particular service, but to suggest a fun and comfortable way to learn more about social media and gain more knowledge and insight about the online news field.

Now comes a similar site (also created via the popular ning.com social media service) that’s aimed at entrepreneurial journalists. The RJI News Collaboratory was hatched at a recent conference at the University of Missouri’s Reynolds Journalism Institute (hence the RJI). Here’s a good blog post that summarizes much of what was discussed there, and many of the ideas that have gone into the new social site.

Since so many of us are involved in, or contemplating, entrepreneurial ways of staying in journalism, the collaboratory network’s arrival couldn’t have been better-timed.

Journalists even have their own social bookmarking site. Publish 2 helps journalists create their own specialized “newswires” and fosters the use of aggregation tools to supplement news coverage. You can “follow” other users (a la Twitter) and collect links for research purposes, join newsgroups and promote your own work. (Disclaimer: I entered Publish2’s “I am the future of journalism” contest that will result in a job offer for the winner. I signed up for the service before that, and it’s increasingly expanding. You can send your links to your Twitter and Delicious accounts as well as your own blog.)

As journalists move headlong into the digital age — whether they’re working for mainstream news sites or startups, or if they go freelance — all the communities and resources and brainstorming and discussions contained on these sites and many other places will be essential as we put these ideas into action.

One of the mini-resolutions I set for myself this year was to become more active in these communities. So if you’re already on them, or are interested in signing up (and they’re all free to join), you can find me here, here and here.

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