The Associated Press is partnering with other international news organizations on an online hub where readers can interact with journalists covering the climate talks opening next week in Copenhagen.
The page on the social-networking site Facebook is aimed at drawing new readers and getting them more involved with news coverage online. Traditional media outlets have struggled to generate enough online traffic and advertising to replace revenue that's been lost as readers and advertisers shift to the Web.
The goal of the news agencies' Facebook project _ called the Climate Pool _ is to produce a central place online to get stories and other content on the Copenhagen conference. Besides links, the agencies will post blog items, lead live discussions between readers and journalists, and take suggestions on what to cover.
"The whole idea is not to promote the news agencies but to connect directly to the audience interested in climate talks and enable the audience to have a direct input into the debate," said Jim Kennedy, the AP's director of strategic planning.
Also participating in the project are Agence France-Presse, ANP of the Netherlands, APA of Austria, APcom of Italy, Canadian Press, dpa of Germany, Kyodo of Japan, Lusa of Portugal, Press Association of the United Kingdom and RIA of Russia.
The project at the United Nations-led conference will incorporate elements of previous AP experiments with social networking and live events.
Last summer, the AP used a Yahoo News blog and the messaging service Twitter to ask readers what questions they wanted answered from inside U.S. Senate confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor.
Such projects present a balancing act for the participating news agencies. They want to provide a compelling read, but they don't want to compete directly with the other media companies to which they sell stories, photos and multimedia.
The AP, for instance, is a cooperative jointly owned by about 1,500 member newspapers, some of which will have their own reporters in Copenhagen.
Kennedy said the agencies will blog only behind-the-scenes information that wouldn't ordinarily end up in their main stories. And they will use the blog to highlight and link to coverage from other outlets. The agency reporters might also post interviews with journalists from other organizations covering the event.
Nearly 200 nations are expected to attend the U.N. conference in the Danish capital to try to craft an international agreement for controlling emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases believed responsible for global warming. It opens Monday and runs through Dec. 18.
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