Speaker Q&A: Kate Day, communities editor,

news:rewired is asking its speakers to tell us more about themselves. We put some questions to Kate Day, communities editor at the Telegraph. Kate will be moderating and participating in a morning session on social media for journalists; and an afternoon session on crowdsourcing and collaboration.

So what exactly do you do at the Telegraph?
I’m the Telegraph’s communities editor so I look after all the parts of the Telegraph site where readers interact with us. This includes reader comments, live debates and reader blogging.

I also blog about photography and run a weekly photo competition on my photo blog which is driven by readers and promoted via social media so I find this is a great way for me to put ideas for social story-telling into practice.

Are you constantly carving out new ground? What are the challenges of launching new initiatives?

The digital landscape is changing very fast so we’re all trying new things all the time. There are lots of challenges – evolving technology, trying to work out the best ways to make new functionality useful rather than gimmicky, managing how this impacts what we are already doing.

Do you find your traditional journalism training useful, or are there more things you could have been taught?
Yes it’s been very useful. The fundamental principles of journalism remain as relevant as they have always been – writing well for your audience, researching, interviewing and so on. I think we could have spent much more time looking at how these principles play out online though.

How do you deal with blogger backlash, or online confrontations? Or are they rare?
Online communities can undoubtedly turn hostile, particularly around more confrontational subjects, and it can be tricky when you’re in the middle of it. In general, the more engaged you are with a community, the more you listen and view everything you do as part of a conversation, the less confrontational things become.

What’s the most exciting multimedia project you’ve launched?
For the last 18 months I have run a weekly photo competition on my Telegraph blog. This has gradually developed, mostly because of suggestions from readers, and we recently produced a calendar featuring 12 of the winners which is being sold in support of the Telegraph Christmas Appeal. It’s been fascinating watching the format evolve and it’s really exciting that a project led by social media is now feeding back into the rest of what we do as journalists.

What advice would you give to a student wishing to pursue a similar career path to yours?

Dive in and start talking to people via social media and blogs. One of the best things about the internet is how easy it makes it to share ideas and learn from other people. Many corners of the web have a very collaborative culture if you start listening. At the same time it’s important not to dismiss the lessons of traditional journalism. Learn as much as you can from editors and senior journalists but also look all over the internet for interesting new ways to apply your skills.

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