Four ways to engage our readers

 Bill Densmore, director of the Media Giraffe Project at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, proposes that there are four ways of “serving news-hungry consumers” — navigator, valet, referee, teacher/coach.

He outlined these four notions, along with 11 tools for adding voice to the editorial process, in this speech delivered at the Knight Digital Media Center of the USC Annenberg School for Communication.

These four terms form a continuum starting at relative  detachment . . . the navigator . . .  to advice . . .  the valet . . . . to creating the playing field . . .  the referee     . . .  to building the community . . .  the coach.  Four distinct voices. But all, I think necessary in series, not parallel, in an era of virtual community.   Because the Internet has enabled a new layer of community. Community used to be physical  — or perhaps topical. Now there is a virtual layer.  And that virtual layer, even in the largest newspaper, is capable of being accessed, managed and played with by editors, almost in the same way that I as a rural weekly editor was able to work directly with my community.

The navigator finds, the valet recommends, the referee connects and facilitates community. And the teacher/coach builds community.