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CBC's Important Experiment

MediaShift: CBC Offers Moderated Forum for Every Precinct. The Canadian Broadcasting Corp. (CBC), which is Canada’s national public broadcaster, tried to solve these problems during the recent national election campaign, which ended with the Conservative Party triumph on January 23. CBC launched an ambitious project called Riding Talk with 308 moderated forums on its website — one for each riding in Canada. (A riding is the equivalent of an American voting precinct.) The idea was to allow people to talk about whatever political issues were important to them and their district — and to do it in a civil way. Jonathan Dube, the editorial director of , the CBC’s online portal, said that every one of the 10,000 forum submissions went through human moderators.

The key innovation here was moderation. It added enormous value to the project, because readers would be taken to what looked like the best parts (to the moderators) of the conversation.

Were readers therefore missing something? Sure. But they were gaining something else, probably more valuable.

All in all, a terrific experiment.

(Jonathan Dube is a member of the Center for Citizen Media’s Board of Advisors.)

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