The reason for our experiment in transparency, moving the editorial conversation that keeps the site running out into the open, was primarily that we couldn't think of a good reason not to do it. If anything it would be interesting for the news junkies who want to see "how the blog sausage is made," as Nieman Lab put it. And by opening the process up, anyone who wanted to jump in can do so. We do a pretty good job of keeping on top of the news. The more people who contribute, the better The Atlantic Wire is. Speaking of which: Why not head over to Open Wire now and say hi?
Like many web news operations, The Atlantic Wire hangs out all day in Campfire (pictured at right: the natural habitat of web editorial) exchanging links, keeping everyone up to date on stories and talking a lot about logistics. The discussion is more IM than news meeting, but why just let it sit there?
So far, the exercise has been mostly one for the journalism voyeurs. We can tell that lots of people are watching us work. We've gotten some good tips (Adam Frucci of Splitsider pointed out the gripping images from a Reuters photographer who thought his plane was going to crash), but it's been the Wire team dominating the conversation. As for those things we thought could go wrong: my biggest managerial fear was that the site would simply grind to a halt, notwithstanding Peter Kafka's suspicions on AllThingsD of a Tom Sawyer-esque scheme. Our comment system, Disqus, isn't built to be used the same way as Campfire--there's a slight delay between messages versus the instaneous chat--so there have been some crossed wires and hiccups but nothing to send us rushing back. My biggest editorial fear was not that someone would say something embarrassing (no one has; the Atlantic Wire crew is a pretty polite bunch) but rather writers would get stage fright. Ravi Somaiya, who used to work with me at Gawker and Newsweek, hoped that we were keeping our "unpublishable/unsavoury conversations" somewhere private. (We're not so radically transparent as to have abandoned our Gchat.) There's been a bit of stiffness, but if anything, the process of pitching ideas in a public forum seems to be helpful in the primordial stage of crafting a news post.
We first thought this would be a one-day experiment, but now it's sort of open-ended--just like Open Wire--and we'll see where it goes. At a certain point the logistical inconvenience will probably bring us back to Campfire where we can talk of deadlines and drafts, but there's no reason the conversation about the stories shouldn't stay out in the open.