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Columbia Missourian

Join the community gathering at MyMissourian.com

By Clyde Bentley
June 9, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CDT

The easiest part of being a journalism professor may be teaching. The toughest part is trying to figure out what journalism will look like when our students are my age.

I’m Mizzou’s point man for something called “citizen journalism.” My charge is to give a portion of the news world back to you. But with traditions as strong as we hold in journalism, that’s turned out to be no easy task.

My quest for the future took me to St. Louis last week to observe a rather incredible operation at KTVI, the Fox television station. The station does all the familiar things to “Web-er-ize” its newscast, but it caught my attention with its user-friendly blogging system. MyFoxSTL has 13,600 registered users — more than 9,000 of whom have active blogs.

I pulled a couple of 5 a.m. shifts at KTVI to see how Mizzou alum/Web producer Jill Hampton balanced the need of all those people to write with the need of the station to report and the need of the readers/viewers for help navigate through the mass of information.

And I jumped into the fray myself. I adopted the persona “MoJo Prof” for my own blog, focusing on my “expertise” in journalism. In the two days, I posted 10 beautiful pieces of prose on the site.

In return, the real bloggers posted 160 comments on my, er, wisdom.

Fox has a reputation for arch conservatism, but surprisingly few of those bloggers were real right-wingers. Most of them, in fact, are family-oriented moms. They want to be heard and respected.

We are listening — really. Predictions of newspaper doom long predate the Internet or even television. We survive because when the chips are down, news people adapt. And here at the Missourian, we are adapting quickly.

MyMissourian.com started in 2004 as an easy way for those of you who don’t want to maintain a blog to get in on the post-your-own-story trend. You write it, we print it all online and a selection in this Saturday paper. You don’t even need to be a political wonk — our readers love Little League, poetry and puppy dogs.

But if you already do have a blog, great. We will link to it on our site and grab good items from it to feature in MyMissourian. Watch your page views soar.

Even if you don’t like to write, the new media gives you an outlet. We can point Columbia to your YouTube videos, publish single snapshots or to post whole Flickr galleries. Bless John Hall, who sends us 30 or 40 photos at a time.

And we post every one so you see his choice of “good photos,” not ours. What’s in your camera?

This week we finally tweaked our software to allow you to makes Fox2STL-like comments. Just register at MyMissourian.com and add your two-cents worth whenever you like. But keep it clean and civil, please. Next fall, we plan to integrate your words even deeper into the Missourian family of publications.

Stay tuned to the future. I’m 56 and most of my students are 21. I’m doing everything I can to make sure they are still in the media when the calendar reads 2042.

But I am quite sure you will already be there.