Sunday, August 12, 2007

An open letter to bloggers and citizen media enthusiasts

Dear friends

Imagine a blogosphere where bloggers conduct thousands of interviews every week with public figures- politicians, business leaders, sportspeople and celebrities. The interviews cover all the major issues- international, national and local. The questions come directly from the public and the answers directly from the people being interviewed- with no involvement of mainstream media.

We believe this would represent a step change in the way the Internet is used to engage people in the news and the issues it covers. True, bloggers and their readers already comment and report on the news very effectively. But what is needed is for bloggers to more effectively set the news agenda by mobilising their readers to ask questions of the public figures in the news and- with the help of crowd sourcing techniques- to deliver the answers.

A lone approach for an interview to a public figure has very little chance of success for all but the most high profile blogger. Yoosk is a portal that will allow any blogger to start a campaign or set up a panel interview with key public figures around any issue.

As you will have guessed, this is an appeal for your help to get our particular contribution to citizen media, namely the fusion of campaigning citizen journalism and crowd sourced interviews, up and running.

But we also passionately believe that what we are offering will bring real value to your own blog and help to take citizen media in a new direction.

As bloggers, many of you are campaigners at heart, or at the very least have a strong position on a number of key issues. Your readers almost certainly share this. What we are suggesting you do is to use Yoosk as a platform for your readers to ask questions of public figures on these issues- with you taking the lead. If you really like the concept, you could use it to start a campaign.

Here’s how we see it working:

Yoosk has a features page that allows bloggers and citizen journalists to create an interview feature on a particular issue, with questions from the public being directed to key people (politicians, business leaders, celebrities) linked to that issue. In some, we secure the commitment of the public figures beforehand in partnership with freelance journalists, in others, we hope that enough questions and votes for those questions by our users will lead to us securing answers.

We are asking bloggers to start their own features on Yoosk (I’ve written here how to go about this), to write some short background and then to ask their readers to submit questions. We’ll do everything we can to get the answers directly from the people concerned (although we welcome any help you can give).

The time involved in creating the feature should be no more than the time it takes to write an average blog post- and if nothing else, it’s an interesting exercise!

What do we offer in return?

Well, of course we’ll link to your site. We are small at the moment, but the more commentators and bloggers submit features, the more traffic we’ll get.

When we get answers, we will post them on Yoosk and the interviews will also be yours to post on your own site.

We hope you’ll go for it. Imagine being able to get four or so leaders in a room being quizzed on a specific issue of your choice by members of the public. We are offering the chance to do this-we are familiar with the objection that the public figures concerned might not condescend to answer, but we really believe that with your help, they will.

Please use our contact form or better, email us directly at timhood at Yoosk dot co dot uk or keithhalstead at Yoosk dot co dot uk.

Tim Hood and Keith Halstead
Co founders of Yoosk

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