So excited about the work you’re doing. Such an opportunity to assess why you’re here, what people value about what you do and what’s most important to you. Lots of newsrooms don’t take the time to do it. “We will take these elements into account and, through our coverage, both describe the ongoing process of St. Louis’ reinvention and engage with it. We will use our skills as a news and information organization to illuminate, investigate, challenge and celebrate how this reinvention defines what it means to be a St. Louisan.’’
As we talk about an audience-focused and inclusive approach to news, it can be useful to talk about what we value, and what we’re trying to achieve. A lot of the kind of participatory journalism I do is rooted in some values that many of us share.
Mission-driven. Information on the public’s behalf. Public invests in us to have an impact. To move the needle on public issues. To be of service. We’re not just about producing a great text or radio project. We’re about, at the core, helping communities.From Linda Lockhart, on obesity project:We see it as our role to unearth insights, spread understanding and lay the groundwork for progress. We want St. Louisans to enjoy better health, and we hope Fit City can help. Along the way, we will report what we learn, to help everyone understand what’s at stake for the entire region and what might be done.
Thiscultural shift is not just true in journalism. True in medicine. Museums. Golf refereeing. Restaurants. No use pretending it’s not happening.
If you’re social, what does that mean? Ripping a page out of a newspaper is a social act.Let’s talk about interactions. How do people interact with their media?It’s a mindset, not a platform.Social,interactive news.Not just effective for happy situations or emotions. Angry. Fired up. Worried. Curious.
Diagram from Meg Pickard describes the attitude at the core of the Guardian’s invitations.This is at the core of how my team and I now approach journalism.Move beyond the notion that no one gets to know what we’re doing until we’re done, and that what happens after we go live isn’t our concern.
How are we inviting our audience to interact with us, and with our content? To consume our content in ways that are helpful and natural? To share their perspective or expertise? This requires a real shift in perspective. From a series of “stories” to an ongoing conversation. It sure doesn’t apply to everything we do. But it can apply to topics or stories that have a life beyond the one-off or day turn.However, what that looks like depends on your newsroom, your priorities, and your goals for your relationship with your community.
What that looks like with a pretend story. This is an ad created by The Guardian to explain what they call “open journalism.”The video is embedded in the powerpoint – if you download, bring that movie file with you. It’s also online here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WW_dBQPAeDY
More diffused. Less likely to see or hear any one story from any one outlet.Majority of visits don’t start on home page.Consuming many fewer stories per week than before.
Some links are to comments. Some are to blogs. Some are to stories. Some are to chats. Some are to aggregations of other responses. Some go even further …Let’s look at some specific examples of invitations.
What invitations does the community respond to? What’s the impact?At Chicago Public Media, Breeze Richardson tracks the number of call-in and online content sharing opportunities, and the number of comments as a ratio of pages that take comments. That fits with their strategic goals. You have to know what you’re trying to achieve. Sourcing?
As we look at examples, ask these questions. Would it work for you? What do you have to gain or lose?
Ask for help covering breaking news. Let’s pause to talk about verification, and what can go wrong. Use sources the same way you would other unverified information. Look for red flags. Double check. Be transparent with readers about what you’re verifying and how.Recognize that social sources don’t represent a kind of content, just a platform. Twitter doesn’t get it wrong; people get it wrong. It just speeds up the pace and volume of conversation. How do you know that people are who they say they are? Wouldn’t trust it over the phone. Verify.
Asking for help tracking down a source for a sports blog at The Oklahoman. What is it about blogs that make us feel like we can write conversationally? And how can we incorporate more of that casual tone into how we talk about news?
Social media also feels comfortable. This weekly Missouri newspaper first said what they’d heard and asked people to share if they’d heard it too. They got 109 comments. They checked back in (bottom right update) with what they knew and didn’t know three hours later, while still waiting to hear back from official sources.our goal has always been to find out who knows what and has what information. There are so many easy, natural ways to do it now.
How often, and how specifically, do we ask readers to tell us what they want to know? What if we were more structured to answer existing questions?
What should we have written?Who else should we interview?Can we contact you in the future about related stories?Very PIN-esque. Google forms work too, if you want option for anonymity.
Ask for help covering breaking news. What do you see where you are?
An eight-minute video of the history of Columbia’s oldest building, targeted to be torn down. This guy’s grandmother lived there when it was a girls school.
When is the conversation the point, and when is it a means to a better story?
What do we share about ourselves? How does being more personal enhance credibility?Learn about his family history with politics, and that he’s both an insider and a journalist. In another case, we learn about a reporter’s family background in science, and how it fuels her passion for science journalism.How accessible are we? What if we shared what we’re working on, in addition to how to contact us?
Identifying and reaching specific audiencesWhat do you hope will happen as a result of your story or project? I see the word “impact” a lot in your content plan. Showing the impact. What action is then possible?Who are you hoping to reach? And if you want conversation, are you inviting it, or just hoping it will happen?The “who do you want to reach” often starts with “the whole community.” But work your way down the funnel and get more and more specific.
On air, online and in person – programming around problem solving issues like hunger. Program airs. Then have simultaneous live chats and in-person discussion forum to talk about next steps.
WYSO in Ohio. Telling the story of economic turmoil and reinvention. Beautiful multimedia experience. Prominent invitation to share.
What + How + WhyWHAT is this site? REINVENTION STORIES is an experiment in bringing real life documentary stories into the potential of an interactive environment. This includes a short movie. Sit back and watch it if you want, or choose your own path through. You can add your own story. You can answer questions we ask. Or eventually you can see dozens of stories, of people, places and events in our city. Can an evolving web site become a living, breathing chronicle of one city’s struggle and resurgence? Let’s find out.
Speaking of community, ProPublica is creating them, not just joining them. For meaningful crowdsourcing and continued conversation.There are FB groups locally, to focus on specific ideologies, priorities, interests, etc. If they meet in person, we feel obligated to listen. Why not online?Seattle Times doing it with people who graduated from high school in a certain year, for an economic impact story.Sometimes, the communities aren’t this organized. It’s harder to find or build the networks. It’s a kind of shoe leather reporting – finding the online conversations and online sources. Andy Carvin.
Future audience. When we needed to reach teens, we found a FB group of 400 teens who’d convened specifically to talk about what we were covering. They shared our stories. They let a few of us into their group. They’re planning to submit a story for From Readers. They feel heard and connected. This is where they talk. The new shoe leather reporting – find the community.
California Watch.Can be downloaded or ordered in the mail.Explain how to act. Available in Spanish and English.They’ve also delivered “news” in a coloring book.http://californiawatch.org/toolkitsVideos explaining stories to kids.How to participate – 3-page guide.Impact. Envision the action you hope people will take, then make it easy for them.
Took a couple of hours to summarize the key points and get it edited. The reporter can do it. Or a copy editor. Took this to city council meeting. Have also done it with public housing and other meetings, or to reach specific audiences, like young parents.We’ve also done this with questionnaires when we attend meetings, asking people what they want to know from candidates or what they wish we would cover.Fight the spread of misinformation – even with people who don’t come to you as a source. Inform the conversation.
Introduce crime story. Journalistic filter. Document who’s out and about.
Special NPR app – postcards to the president.
When should the journalist get out of the way? When does it seem more authentic to provide the platform, then step back?I’m avoiding showing examples that take fancy technology. This can be done with a flickr or facebook album, and an embedded slideshow on a site.
Highlight the expertise of the community with a crowdsourced project. ArtHounds has become a major brand for MPR. Journalist prompts with questions but edits himself out. Talk for 10-30 minutes. 90 seconds go on air weekly for each of three subjects. After one month of recruiting, it’s been self-sustaining for four years. OPB has considered doing it for outdoors.
Public art spots around town with this sign on them. Listen to the artist or expert explain where you are and what you’re looking at. City publishes a map. Shared funding.
Or song that reminds you of summer. SoundCloud lets you easily collect audio to use on air. Social on the platform – follow stations, shows, people (non-journalists, too) – really popular just for music. Embeddable. Comment on individual parts of the audio.
84 written comments here, but audio ran on air.
Resource for supporting your community in a time of crisis, around difficult topics. Connected to a PBS show After Newtown. Social media toolkit.
Obesity: Unearthing angles we’re not thinking about. Corporate programs. Airlines. Clothing design. Furniture. Media stereotypes. Global context. Food production. What questions do you wish were being asked? Blogs from multiple perspectives. Who do you most want to reach, and will your traditional methods read them? Tip sheets? Quizzes?Gun violence. What questions do you wish were being asked? How do you get at the murky middle? Tear down stereotypes? Have a conversation where you have to bring someone who thinks the opposite?Brainstorm one vertical. Carry through the narrative of each vertical by not pretending each story stands alone. Great job of linking back and teasing forward. Constant invitations.
St. Louis Presentation on Engagement in Journalism - May 2013
News as aconversation@email@example.com
“Here’s something four-year-olds know: a screenwithout a mouse is missing something. Here’ssomething else they know: media that’s targeted atyou but doesn’t include you may not be worthsitting still for. … They will just assume that mediaincludes the possibilities of consuming, producing,and sharing side by side, and that thosepossibilities are open to everyone. How else wouldyou do it?”— Clay Shirky, Cognitive Surplus