Why WellCommons, a site based on social media and community engagement, works

Google+ has its circles. Facebook has its pages. WellCommons.com has its groups.

You’ve no doubt heard of the first two. WellCommons is a health site run by the Lawrence Journal-World, and it invites the community to publish as much as it encourages people to comment. The site recently won an EPpY for best community service site, and we at the Journal-World see it as more of a community resource than anything.

Jane Stevens, formerly director of media strategies at the Journal-World, wrote about the site for the Knight Digital Media Center. (The emphasis is hers.)

Much of journalism is stuck in the quicksand of trying preserve the print or TV or radio platform on a very different digital medium that has its own idiosyncrasies. The main difference between WellCommons and any other news site is that social media is baked into the DNA of its content management system. It is a social media site.

As a friend put it: WellCommons “let the people in!” That changes everything.

I’ll let Jane’s piece speak for itself, but a few key points:

  • The public is encouraged to share its stories and information by posting directly to the site;
  • It thrives on interaction between the newsroom and the public, online and offline;
  • It integrates the entire news organization – editorial, marketing, events, social media – in achieving the site’s goals;
  • By allowing the community to tell its own stories, it fosters a sense of shared experience.



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