There is something new on NPR.org today.
Starting now, it will be easier for you to talk to us, for us to talk to you and for you all to talk to each other. We are making it possible for anyone who registers with us to comment on a story and to create a profile page where many interesting things can happen. We are providing a forum for infinite conversations on NPR.org. Our hopes are high. We hope the conversations will be smart and generous of spirit. We hope the adventure is exciting, fun, helpful and informative. This is important for the NPR community.
That last phrase — "important for the NPR community" — is not phony baloney corporate rhetoric, I promise.
The NPR community is a real thing; it is made up of the people who work here, the people who work at member stations, the people who listen to NPR on the radio, the people who use NPR.org and the people who support NPR. And many in that community think of ourselves as "NPR people." Few other American news organizations inspire such allegiance, have a real community and have "people." NPR does and it is vitally important to our health and growth to be able to talk to each other more and more openly.
NPR is late to this game, to be blunt. Many big news operations have had open comments and other "social media" functions for quite awhile. Some of you are grizzled veterans of Facebook, MySpace, YouTube and online news commenting; for some this will be new. NPR has been cautious because we want to do it right; we want the comments and the conversations to be useful, friendly and civil; we want NPR employees to participate and talk about their work. We needed the right tools and the right philosophy to come together. Now it has.
NPR is a non-profit. We are not launching the project to get more "hits" that will make more money. We are doing it because it is the respectful thing to do for the NPR community. We expect to get story ideas, tips, insights into the world we cover, tough criticism and even the occasional compliment. We want to share more of the news we gather and the stories we tell with you. And we want to do all this in the NPR style — with both dignity and self-deprecating lightness.
We won't hit the social media ball out of the park on the first swing. But we encourage you to create a profile and let us know what you like and don't like. We apologize in advance for any bugs you encounter. Also be sure to take a look at some of the more specific rules of the road. And if you don't like to do this stuff in public, here's my e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.