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27 Feb

DIY and passion give birth to #wjchat

Posted by 5 comments

NOTE: This piece is also running on OJR: The Online Journalism Review

For me, it began with a snarky tweet: #journchat Bad name, good PR.

Apparently that tweet touched a nerve and prompted Web journalists to come out of the Twitterverse to express agreement.

Before I continue, let me define two things:

  • #journchat is a Twitter chat that is “an ongoing conversation between journalists, bloggers and PR folks” held weekly on Twitter. Created by @PRsarahevans, the first Twitter chat was held Monday, November 24, 2008. While it has “journalism” in the name, it skews heavily toward public relations.
  • A Twitter chat essentially is a regularly held chat, usually weekly, on a specific topic… tied together through a hashtag. A group of Twitterers gather and talk about whatever… blogging, book editing, etc.

Moments after that snarky tweet went out the hunger for Web journalists to network and learn from each other was apparent.

It makes sense.

We’re a community that is constantly evolving, struggling to find the “right” solution for our unique situations… from inside our newsrooms… often alone. Many of us have met at conferences or through social networking, but never regularly.

It was that passionate need mixed with the DIY-spirit of the web that got @lilgirlbigvoice @killbutton @kimbui and myself together to create #jchat within five hours from meeting each other the first time.

While I had known P. Kim Bui from the past, I had just met Bethany Waggoner and Amira Dughri during the Feb. 1 journchat. Soon, our group grew and included Kate Gardiner (@kategardiner) and Robin Phillips (@RobinJP) among others.

We worked out the details for the debut chat first through Google Wave, but moved to the more stable Etherpad. We selected a topic, drafted some questions and volunteered our first guest moderator… which turned out to be me.

After finding that the @jchat Twitter account was taken and essentially dead, we changed the name to @wjchat. We also launched the blog site.

Through the power of our networks we promoted the inaugural chat that launched Wed., Feb 10, 2010. You can read the first transcription here.

We’re now three chats in and, dare I say it, the weekly conversation is a success.

It’s been my honor and privilege to see how this idea has been embraced by the community. For me, this is just another example of the power of the Web and the value of social media.

I encourage you all to join us this, and hopefully every, Wednesday at 5PM PST as we, together, go through these unprecedented changes in our industry… learning from each other, supporting each other and building our community.

  1. January 23rd, 2012 at 12:13 | #1

    Wow this is awesome, Robert! It’s quite spectacular to have learned about #WJchat along the way, only to learn it’s actually quite young (although I suppose a veteran in Internet years) and have felt like it’s been part of a healthy journalism diet for as long as I can remember.

    Kudos to the crew on the second year!

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