[OSM-talk] Press contacts

OJW streetmap at blibbleblobble.co.uk
Sun Aug 12 20:52:15 BST 2007

Following-on from a dicussion at OSM party, and perhaps of interest to our new 
press officer...


For a project which depends on potential volunteers knowing about the project, 
and starting to understand its rather radical approach to cartography, the 
job of communicating with "press" is perhaps the most important part of OSM.  

So far, we've had one newspaper article and two local-television slots, for a 
project which has been going 3 years...

I'd like to suggest that the biggest influence we want to have on press 
coverage is not stories specifically about our project.  But it's stories 
which mention us in passing.  Articles that mention OSM as the "default" 
alternative to any proprietary mapping project which is announced, and 
include at least one line in any Google/OS/TeleAtlas/TomTom article comparing 
whatever new product is being announced, to OpenStreetMap.  For example, 
there will be news coverage of giving feedback via your car navigation 
system.  Ideally, the journalist should "know" when writing the Teleatlas 
feedback article that she really ought to point-out to her readers that this 
contribution will be incorporated into just one company's database, and that 
there are "more open" projects that she could compare the new feature to.

So how do we achieve this "background awareness" of OpenStreetMap amongst 
journalists and broadcasters?

The Open Rights Group was launched just over a year ago, intending to be a UK 
version of EFF (paraphrased).  It takes about £5000/month from 1000 people to 
support two full-time staff.  (this is just background info from memory - see 
wikipedia or web for more accurate details). But they've managed to be 
mentioned, compared-to, or quoted, in loads of press articles, for any topic 
that falls within their area of interest.

AFAICT, their method is quite simple: just have a telephone number, 
continuously staffed during office hours, where journalists *know* that they 
can get a comment or opinion on any matter relating to [in ORG's case] 
digital rights/restrictions.  For anyone writing their article or preparing a 
news segment about some technology-related issue, it seems to be very useful 
for those journalists to have somewhere they're guaranteed to get a coherent, 
well-reasoned opinion or comment, normally an opposing-opinion, especially if 
they can attribute it to the spokesman of a non-profit group with lots of 
members, rather than to a generic unknown individual.

So I'd like to see some discussion as how this could be used to get 
OpenStreetMap-style quotes mentioned in passing, at the bottom of any article 
talking about digital or community mapping technology.  Perhaps we could ask 
OpenRightsGroup for more information about how they handle the press. Perhaps 
we could find out if ORG would be interested in promoting OSM. Perhaps we 
could have a "press-contact" phone number ourselves.  Maybe we have web pages 
dedicated to the kind of information journalists need, in a format that's 
easy to incorporate into articles. Maybe we issue press-releases for each 
major new feature (how many press-releases have been published for AND data, 
or the conference, or Yahoo imagery, or mapping parties?), or highlighting 
the limitations of each proprietary mapping idea that gets launched.  Anyone 
have other ideas?

Because without some background-awareness of the project (like wikipedia has, 
even amongst people who don't use it), it's going to be very difficult to 
meet the exponential-growth that we're aiming for.



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