Traffic doesn’t seem to be the right measure of civic impact. A story that gets lots of page views or is widely shared might be civically relevant, but might also be salacious – amusing and popular as much of the Anthony Weiner coverage has been, I’m not sure it’s been a positive contributor to our civic involvement. Phil suggested that comments aren’t an adequate metric either. Stories that garner long comment threads could suggest broad involvement, but also may suggest partisan controversy. I mentioned an idea that I’ve been trying to pitch for a while: in an age of participatory media, news demands participation. Or to quote Benjamin Barber, “People are apathetic because they are powerless, not powerless because they are apathetic.” For people to pay attention to an important story, it’s possible that we need to work to make it possible for people to have an impact on the outcome of the story.

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