‘Involvement journalism’

‘Involvement journalism’
: AOL sends out a press release touting what it calls “involvement journalism.”

To complement the member’s personalized news experience, AOL News offers multiple opportunities for members to join in the larger news debates and connect with other members through polls, message boards, chatrooms and AOL Journals (blogs), creating a more enhanced, shared experience….

“We’re changing the way people consume and experience the news,” said Lewis D’Vorkin, AOL’s Editor-in-Chief for News and Sports. “AOL’s unique format allows us to create a dynamic, interactive experience that our members trust and value. AOL News brings members the news they want in their preferred format and incorporates multiple voices through shared storytelling elements. As a result, not only do members get the news, but they can also see how others are reacting and gain different perspectives on world events. It’s a strategy we call involvement journalism.”

Sounds good. If only they meant it and did it.

Go to the AOL news page and all you see from the audience is a tiny box with a tiny quote on, today, Michael Jackson, one user at a time. It’s the man-on-the-streetization of the people, the worst of tokenism.

They talk involvement. They don’t mean it.

But they could. AOL has all the tools that would allow its audience to become truly involved. They could use weblogs (aka journals) to edit the news from their perspective: See the world through the lense of someone like you. They could use bulletin boards to let their huge audience set the agenda for debate: Start a movement for health-care reform on AOL. They could use scientific polling of their diverse audience to see what America really says about issues: Who cares how it plays in Peoria; how does it play on AOL?

They could do all that if they meant it when they said “involvement journalism.” But they don’t. Too bad. [via Lost Remote]