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Introducing Story Lab

Welcome to Story Lab. This is where readers and reporters will come together to create and shape stories. Washington Post writers will talk about some of the hard choices involved in journalism. And you can discuss and debate the stories making the news in the Washington area.

The Lab is, as you'd expect from the name, an experiment. This is a place for people who are not only curious about what's going on in the world, but also about how the news is gathered and packaged. With the media landscape in turmoil and readers empowered to construct their own windows onto the world, the role of traditional news organizations is ever more in question. We want to add to those questions, and maybe provide some answers along the way.

Story Lab has four main elements:

1) It's a place where stories will be born, grow and occasionally die. Reporters from the Story Lab team and throughout The Post will come to you with story ideas and ask for the collective wisdom of the readers: Is a concept for a story right? How should it evolve? Can readers help reporters find the sources and scenes that might take us closer to the truth? Sometimes reporters will want reader advice about how to shape a story; other times, readers may be asked to contribute directly to reporting, as in this pioneering effort by a radio station that asked its audience to go out and check the price of milk at their local groceries--a story that demonstrated that people in poor areas are more likely to face price-gouging than their affluent neighbors. Our first reporter queries will appear today.

2) Story Lab is where you can learn more about how stories are reported. In the coming days, you'll see Post reporters discuss how they managed to get marijuana smokers to agree to be named in a story about the increasing openness of pot use, how the subject of a Post profile dealt with the onslaught of media attention that followed publication of our story about him, and how a reporter came to terms with our traditional reticence about writing in first person. "How I got that story" will be a regular feature on Story Lab--including interviews with reporters covering some of the top stories in the news and insights on the journalistic and ethical challenges that we face. Another feature, "What we left out," will be a place for reporters to present aspects of stories that may add depth or insight to the main article.

3) In a feature called The Blowback, reporters will open a window onto what happens after a story appears in print and online. As much as we appreciate readers adding their voices in the online comments at the bottom of each article, reporters hear much more from readers by phone, email and even good old snail mail. The discussions that follow publication of a story sometimes add a whole new dimension to the original report, and you'll see those debates unfold here.

4) If you've come along this far, you're someone who enjoys the craft of writing--and Story Lab's writers are eager to share the best stories of the day. Every weekday morning, we'll present our Pick Story of the Day, which could be from The Post or anywhere else in the world of great writing. And you're invited to add your suggestions of stories that readers shouldn't miss. Post writers will also use Story Lab to talk about their craft and to present interviews with some of the country's top non-fiction writers.

Story Lab will evolve over time, and we'd be honored if you consider it your blog as much as ours. Please tell us what you think, and use this as a way to let The Post's reporters and editors know what stories we ought to be writing and what you think of what we're doing day to day.

By Marc Fisher  | November 23, 2009; 8:42 AM ET
Categories:  About the Bloggers, Journalism  
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