Here is Robin Hamman who works for the BBC. It's ironic that the BBC has an American working with them and NPR has an English accented Canadian! Maybe there is more to the Grail thing than I first thought - the need for the Innocent Fool - the real outsider (a long term blogger) - to ask the most important question - "What ails thee?"
Robin has got permission in the context of the BB C's local service to try out an experiment that I think is the "Grail" or the process of linking the public with the broadcaster in a participative way that enhances community and enables meaning while getting rid of the noise. .
Before I tell you what Robin is doing - I want to go back to the core of the Grail process so that we can see how he got here. For his questions are our questions in Public Radio in America. In the Grail process it is the right question that unlocks the truth. The right question can only be asked by the Innocent.
The power of the Innocent or the Outsider is that s/he is not embedded in the old way of doing things. Robin "Knew" from the position of his outsider Innocence (A Community Blogger guy and not a pro journalist) that broadcasting - one to many - power over - is a dying relationship. He was a passionate believer in participation and in extending the reach of the BBC into the local community.
The BBC was early in asking for citizen support and input.
So after the Tube bombing there were 7,000 emails and pictures coming over the transom into the news room at the BBC. After the Fuel Depot explosion there were 25,000 by noon! There was a staff of 7 who were overwhelmed by this.
The infinite scale and the infinite Noise created by having an open door was becoming apparent to the Innocents who then asked - how much will this cost to keep this type of interaction going? Can we in reality sift through all the noise to find the diamonds? Is this really participation? How could we find the quality as the noise builds?
These were the questions that Robin's team asked when they asked for permission to try a different track. By asking this type of question - they got the green light. They had exposed the unsustainable nature of and open door and no filters in a world where content was going to reach for infinite.
So what are they doing? They are creating a Space where they will have a Host.
The Host will select what goes into the space. Really a new kind of editor - see the link to the old?
So who are the contributors? They have gone into the local community (This is regional BBC) and found the best bloggers. They have met with them several times. Beer has been drunk. They have an offer for them. If they want to be picked up in this space by the host, they have access to a wide range of training - first of all about what is the BBC way for journalism ethics etc and secondly they offer all sorts of technical training. If you want to make a better video - we will help you etc.
All keep their own blogs but offer an RSS feed. There is a static hosted BBC site that filters this content. When the host is running with a story, the Host will not run a full story from any source but will use a number of excerpts as most bloggers do now. So the etiquette of the 'sphere applies and the work of finding material mainly defaults mainly to the aggregator. The material includes of course, text, stills, video and music. The offer includes help in all areas. So not only does this build community but also competency.
This is how I and many follow the debate in Public radio or any field right now. As I find better voices either myself or via friends - I add them. The bloggers filter, the Host filters the result = high quality community participation.
The hosts job - to add context - to make linkages - to select talent - to grow talent - Sound familiar? They are on course to attract the best talent in their community and to showcase it in the least expensive way. They are on course to open up many many communities. You can see how for instance a gardening community, a music community any kind of community of either place or interest can be accommodated. All the other Grails about diversity can be accommodated as can the paradox between place and interest. Above all this is very inexpensive. Any of us could set up such a space.
What do you think - push at this model and think of it at your station - think of it at NPR.