ReportingOn: Changing Horses Mid-Stream is Easy When You’re the Horse

    by Ryan Sholin
    December 12, 2008

    DIY development, design, community management, and marketing isn’t for me (this year).

    This is an update about what’s going on with ReportingOn, which is to say, there’s not much going on with ReportingOn. For now.

    My Knight News Challenge-funded project to connect journalists on the same topical beat with their peers launched on October 1. I continued development work on it through the month of October, and then was completely tackled by a pack of wild bears known as my day job, life at home, and a need for some brief moments of sanity in between the rest.


    Now that it’s time to circle back around and write a few reports about the site’s launch and progress, the way forward is obvious:

    I can’t do it all myself.

    I’ll be hiring a development/design team to do the initial work on rebuilding the site to meet my specifications, and frankly, I can’t wait.


    Although interest in using ReportingOn is high, return visitors are few, and much of that, I think, is due in some extent to the lack of certain obvious features that the service needs to have in place to bring users back. Notifications, replies, messaging, and tie-ins to other, widely-used networks.

    Networks like Twitter, of course.

    The meteoric, eye-popping growth of Twitter in the 13 months since I first submitted my proposal to the Knight Foundation has been a wild variable in the formula for ReportingOn. The massive (compared to a year ago) adoption of Twitter by journalists should really change the way I think about building a platform for journalists to connect. The “not-made-here” syndrome I talk about sometimes appears to be losing its viral powers, as evidenced by the dozens of news organizations using Twitter to connect with their community and beyond.

    So I’m changing the way I think about ReportingOn, and I’ll be working through writing a refreshed and refined spec with my development and design team soon.

    For more “lessons learned” along the same lines, check out Susan Mernit’s “Waist deep in the Big Muddy, or, we’re moving on“ and Chris O’Brien’s recent Idea Lab post about the Next Newsroom project’s pitfalls.

    Tagged: reportingon twitter web development
    • Ryan, thank you for your refreshing post. I look forward to where your nimbleness takes you. I write of a similar tech challenges in my Episode 13 of the Includer http://www.includer.org/?p=302

    • I have found that the easiest way to get return visitors, is to offer some kind of interaction between them and you. For example developing an idea partially based on specifications from your visitors. They will almost always come back to see the finished “project”, and discuss it with you and other visitors. After they have come back a few times it becomes a habit to them to visit your site. Then you start it all over again.

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