This social network was set up in just a few minutes and is a work in progress - please use this forum to suggest and discuss ways of improving the site and making it more useful for anyone involved in communicating research.
Just to echo a couple of the comments above, and add some more. Definately keyword and country searches for members would be invaluable. Also, could you create a section on the Forum explicitly for journalists working on stories looking to connect with policy people/researchers - and indeed with each other - to discuss approaches to issues, to swap papers and reports and share contacts?
The good news is that the search function should be much better from mid-July onwards. And by August, the network will have a new Groups function. This will allow members to join groups within the network based on their country, field of interest, activity (journalist / press officer, for instance), language. These moves should make it much easier for people to find contacts and share information. I will add a forum post about this so people have an idea what to expect.
I never had the chance to thank you for your welcome note. I am an environmentalist...worked on several issues to advocate for sustainable development, involvement of youth, networking and cooperation. Currently, I work at the Ministry of Environment of Jordan as the Policy Director. I'll be looking forward to utilizing this space effectively by all means.
Another thought (please allow me to dribble them out like this...):
The replies in this discussion thread (and other threads too?) are automatically displayed in order of oldest to most recent.
This makes it a little more difficult for contributors to check whether their reply has been received, and new visitors might have the impression that nothing has happened since 2007, since most sites put the most recent news and views first.
You should be able to change the default settings for this.
At the Research Cooperative (another Ning style site) I have made metagroups that are actually index pages for other groups - e.g. I made a group called Publishers - and then I have made a subtab for this index page under the Group tab in the main menu at the top of the page.
This gives visitors much quicker access to groups that might be of interest to them.
A basic principle I am working with is that visitors should be navigate easily through the site from any direction. Ning has already set up methods for this, but we can refine and expand the navigation quite easily using subtabs.