Wednesday, August 16, 2006

PostGlobal: washingtonpost.com's New Feature

PostGlobal is the latest offering on washingtonpost.com and is moderated by David Ignatius and Fareed Zakaria. According to the site,
PostGlobal is an experiment in global, collaborative journalism, a running discussion of important issues among dozens of the world's best-known editors and writers. It aims to create a truly global dialogue, drawing on independent journalists in the countries where news is happening -- from China to Iran, from South Africa to Saudi Arabia, from Mexico to India.
Started slightly over two months ago, PostGlobal is fashioned as a blog on which more than thirty journalists opine on questions posed by the moderators. Readers also have the opportunity to respond to these questions directly or to respond to the opinions of the members of the panel. Questions are posed "at least twice a week" and some recent ones have included, "Who will dominate post-Fidel Cuba and does it matter for the world?", "What two suggestions would you give the U.S. Secretary of State?", "Is the war making the world safer for Israel, America and their allies or more dangerous?".

Although it does not seem to be up and running yet on the PostGlobal page, there are plans for and "Editor's Inbox" area for "... assessments of the latest stories and for links to useful resources for making sense of what's happening." The "Debate" section pits two of the panelists against each other on a topic and allows readers to pitch questions to the debaters.

PostGlobal's layout is easy to navigate with clearly marked sections. Readers' opinions are right alongside the panelists' opinions in two columns on the main page and are given as much prominence in terms of placement and they make full use of it too. The readers appear to be much more vocal when responding to the questions and they stay around to answer other readers that may engage them which cannot be said for the panelists. Of the panelist opinions I've read, not a single panelist has responded to any of the comments on his/her posts. Readers' opinions are also much livelier, more passionate.

The feature is still in its infancy and it'll be interesting to see where it goes. With so many media sources out there, from mainstream media to blogs to online magazines, etc., I wonder whether PostGlobal will be drowned in a sea of voices. PostGlobal seems to be trying to distinguish itself from the rest of the field by offering the opinions of a diverse set of "experts" in one place,
... we'll post a question then solicit responses from members of our diverse network of experts, whose combined views, we believe, will reflect what the world thinks about important issues more quickly and completely than would those of any single commentator.

[...]

Understanding the world is a daily puzzle -- for the prominent journalists who make up the PostGlobal network and for our millions of potential readers around the world. We will try to make sense of where the world is going by putting our heads together.
We'll just have to wait and see.

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