Seattle's Grist fuels Facebook's climate-change forum
Seattle-based Grist and other organizations hope to bring climate-change news to Facebook, then let users spread information to their friends. Called "Hot Dish," the new Web page allows Facebook members to share and post environmental stories and to document changes they've made to fight climate change.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Hot Dish: www.newscloud.com/hotdish
Log onto Facebook, write on a friend's wall.
Comment on a photo or two.
Read about how climate change is affecting the world, our country and local cities? Probably not on Facebook — until now.
Seattle-based Grist and other organizations hope to bring climate-change news to Facebook, then let users spread information to their friends. Called "Hot Dish," the new Web page allows Facebook members to share and post environmental stories and to document changes they've made to fight climate change, such as switching to efficient light bulbs or composting.
"It's all about what's going on in the news and how they're taking what's out there and putting it in place in their personal lives," said Zibby Wilder, project manager for the new site.
Grist, which delivers online environmental news and commentary with a touch of humor, will post stories about climate change on Hot Dish. Then it'll be up to Facebook users to continue the conversation by voting on articles, commenting and posting new ones.
A University of Minnesota researcher will study the patterns that emerge from Hot Dish to understand how to engage younger people in news and current events.
For Grist, the project is a chance to get more involved in the realm of social media, said executive editor Russ Walker. The journalism industry is scrambling to adjust to new ways of presenting and sharing news.
"We want to be on the front side of that curve," Walker said, referring to how news sites are becoming more interactive with readers. "It's like a present dropped in our lap."
Grist staff will post a few stories daily on the Facebook site, ranging from hard news out of Washington, D.C., to witty editorials about climate change. From there, it's up to readers to rank, spread and post stories. The page on Facebook will be updated to reflect reader input.
This model was pioneered by NewsCloud, a community-driven news aggregator also based in Seattle. Founder Jeff Reifman wanted to figure out how to use technology to get readers more involved in the news. He applied for a John S. and James L. Knight Foundation journalism-research grant to start Hot Dish and conduct the study focused on younger readers.
Studies have shown many teenagers prefer to communicate using social-networking sites such as Facebook, but it's unclear whether they are getting news through the sites, said Christine Greenhow, a learning-technologies researcher at the University of Minnesota who is leading the research study.
Facebook members ages 16-25 who use the site will be rewarded with points for contributing information or proving they've made changes to help the environment. A running tally will encourage more involvement, and an Arctic trip awaits the user with the most points.
The contest is meant to drive traffic for the research study, Wilder said. Hot Dish will likely continue as a news-sharing site after the contest ends in early May.
Michelle Ma: 206-464-2303 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company
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