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Community engagement: A practical conversation guide for newsrooms

October 7, 2011 in Community, Craft, Resources, Revenue

There is a general understanding among journalists these days that flourishing in today’s media landscape involves more interaction with and responsiveness to our communities. Community engagement is often cited in future-of-news conversations as a key to continued success. Nine out of 10 editors in a Spring 2011 Reynolds Journalism Institute survey said they were talking in their newsrooms about how to make the news more social and participatory. The survey reinforced, however, that editors aren’t sure what exactly that means or how to go about it.

This discussion guide is an attempt to help get folks started.

As part of my 2010-2011 RJI Fellowship (“Ditch the Lecture. Join the Conversation.”), I spent several months interviewing journalists about their changing relationships with their communities. I focused on their attitudes and actions toward their intended news consumers. Along the way, I took notes about the questions these journalists seemed to be pondering, and of the tips and strategies they shared with me. I grouped those strategies into three categories of engagement: outreach, conversation and collaboration.

You’ll find many of their ideas on the following pages, and I’m indebted to everyone who shared their time and expertise with me.” SourceReynolds Journalism Institute

2011 Journalist Engagement Survey

September 22, 2011 in Community, Craft, Resources, Revenue

While editors at U.S. daily newspapers overwhelmingly say they think audience engagement has become an important part of practicing journalism, they’re often not sure what that means or how to go about it. Many have yet to embrace tools that allow them to understand and interact with their audiences. Not even half of respondents said that they use social media to listen as well as share information, that they interact with readers in comments sections, or that they use their analytics reports to help make news decisions.

A telephone survey of 529 managing editors, executive editors, and editors of daily community newspapers in March, April and May of 2011, validated that audience engagement is on the minds of editors, and not just the editors I interviewed this year who are on the cutting edge of experimentation. Many acknowledged that their news processes need to be more social and collaborative, and some mentioned hiring people specifically with that in mind. The survey was administered by the Center for Advanced Social Research (CASR) of the Missouri School of Journalism.” Sourcerjionline.org

A resource for newsrooms: Measuring the success of audience engagement efforts

September 14, 2011 in Community, Craft, Resources, Revenue

Journalists have a lot to learn from other disciplines about tracking what works. We’re not used to gauging our success in ways more sophisticated than ratings or circulation numbers, and we’re behind the measurement curve. But these days, it’s hard to value what you can’t measure. And as newsrooms grapple with how to make room in tight budgets for audience engagement, it’s natural that they’d also wonder what the return on that investment might be.

With these issues in mind, a group of journalists invested in audience engagement gathered in early May at the Reynolds Journalism Institute to talk specifically about measurement (http://www.rjionline.org/events/engagement-metric). Some of them were widely recognized experts. All were working to effect change in their traditional newsrooms or products. They came because they believe that as news organizations fight for survival, a more connected relationship with their communities should be valued, and therefore measured. They were joined by smart folks from other disciplines who shared their time to help guide the discussions and share their expertise.

Our multi-disciplinary group (see bios of some of the folks involved) focused our conversations around specific strategies for audience engagement, what their value is to the news organizations, and how the success of the efforts can be evaluated. We spent a day filling out a google spreadsheet together, and what you’ll find here is an edited version of that document. It’s not intended as a comprehensive guide to engagement, but instead as a sampling of practical ways to be strategic in our efforts.” Source: Reynolds Journalism Institute