Now it’s your job

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Rock stars are nothing without their adoring fans. Neither is any publication without its readers (adoring or not).
Reader participation has moved beyond the op-ed page or letters to the editor and has extended into the World Wide Web.
Nearly every printed publication has a companion Web site, complete with blogs and discussion forums suited specifically for readers.
What makes these media of communication so valuable is how much they can add to a publication with little or no cost, and how they expand readership beyond specific locales.
Discussion forums can add insight to specific issues, presenting multiple points of view while encouraging readers to form their own.
However, like many things on the Internet, fact-checking is required to ensure accuracy.
Other rapidly evolving technologies also have allowed readers to become directly involved with their publications of choice.
In the wake of digital and cellphone cameras, some publications have encouraged readers to send in their own photos and video footage of particular high-profile events or people.
An example of this can be seen with The Dallas Morning News, which began soliciting Iraq War photos from soldiers in 2003.
During the California wildfires, the Baltimore Sun published cell phone camera pictures from homeowners who were in the midst of the disaster.
It makes sense that news sources are making an effort to extend their services into the realm of technology.
The modern-day reader is familiar with how to use online sources so these new methods of participation are not alienating and are usually enjoyable.
However, an important thing to remember is that the individual readers, not the technology, are at the center of what they can contribute.
Natalia Montemayor

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