August 06, 2012

Promoting Smart Online Conversations

Online conversations are too often marked by vitriol and mudslinging, but one foundation has found a way to encourage civility and respect in a forum focused on innovation.

The Patterson Foundation's Journalism Accelerator is designed to stimulate conversations about innovations in the news media. It invites prominent thinkers on a topic to participate in a real-time conversation and then summarizes that conversation to provide ideas and resources to others, says Janet Coats, a consultant for the new-media journalism initiative at the Patterson Foundation.

"We really found a need that had not been filled in other ways, and that's a need for qualified conversation, where if you come into this conversation you know it's going to be at a quality level and the people who are there are going to be there to learn and to share," Ms. Coats says.

In this episode of Social Good, Ms. Coats shares her advice for developing an online community of learners who respect each other and the ideas they are sharing.

Allison Fine, a nonprofit leader and expert on technology and communications, discusses how charities and foundations can more effectively use social-media tools to spread their messages and raise money. Ms. Fine incorporates suggestions and questions from readers into her podcasts and invites you to e-mail her at Look for new installments on the first Thursday of every month.