Screenshot from KCRG's Facebook page, where the station asked viewers to share whether or not they trust KCRG.
Have you ever asked your users if they trust you? This is a simple way to get feedback and something KCRG tried on Facebook and on their website. When posing the question on Facebook, journalists took time to answer the questions. Their users were polite for the most part and more importantly appreciated responses, even though some of their questions were difficult.
The Day held a Q&A on Facebook by allowing individuals to ask questions by commenting on a post. The newsroom then replied and answered questions in the same comment thread. They invited multiple people from the newsroom to participate and respond. It resulted in a very lively discussion.
Your commenters can be some of your most opinionated readers, and sometimes they have questions about the comments themselves. The Virginian-Pilot created a FAQ that addressed questions about usernames, community guidelines, bans and more. Plus, having a clear policy can help when they do need to enforce the rules.
Your commenters can be some of your most opinionated readers, and sometimes they have questions about the comments themselves. The Virginian-Pilot created an FAQ that addressed questions about usernames, community guidelines, bans and more. Plus, having a clear policy can help when they do need to enforce the rules.
The State wanted to make sure all members of one of their Facebook groups understood their community guidelines. They also wanted to revist the rules to clearly state what is allowed and what is not. Once they came up with the revised guidelines, they pinned the post to the top of the group. Here is what they posted: "The Buzz is a place on Facebook where those interested in South Carolina politics can discuss current events and related topics. We encourage thoughtful comments from a wide range of viewpoints, and support passionate and respectful dialogue. We will not tolerate personal attacks, threats, obscenity, profanity, political campaigning or commercial promotion. Moderators maintain the right to remove violating comments and suspend or ban users when necessary."
The State wanted to make sure all members of one of their Facebook groups understood their community guidelines. They also wanted to revisit the rules to clearly state what is allowed and what is not. Once they came up with the revised guidelines, they pinned the post to the top of the group. Here is what they posted: “The Buzz is a place on Facebook where those interested in South Carolina politics can discuss current events and related topics. We encourage thoughtful comments from a wide range of viewpoints and support passionate and respectful dialogue. We will not tolerate personal attacks, threats, obscenity, profanity, political campaigning or commercial promotion. Moderators maintain the right to remove violating comments and suspend or ban users when necessary.”
Virginian-Pilot
When encouraging engagement and response to comments on your website or on social media platforms, it’s important to make sure your newsroom is equipped to jump in and help. The Virginian-Pilot created a guide for their reporters and editors to help them better respond to user comments and increase engagement.
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It’s not uncommon for users to question why a newsroom is covering specific teams and to assume the staff is showing preference. Responding to those questions publicly can help demystify the story selection process for the commenter and for anyone else who is reading. The Day offered an explanation in a comment here that discussed the need to plan ahead and the newsworthiness of a specific team.
Screenshot from The Christian Science Monitor's Facebook page, explaining why the organization was implementing a paywall and inviting comments.
When instituting a paywall or changing what users will be able to access for free, it’s important to be upfront, honest and respond to criticism. That’s exactly what the Christian Science Monitor did when they limited the number of articles non-subscribers could read for free on their website. In their post, they talked about why this was happening and the emphasized the value of their reporting. Most importantly, they took time to respond to comments and questions from users. After this announcement, the news organization reported an increase in subscriptions.
Enid used Facebook to remind their users of what type of content they will delete and what type they allow in comment sections. Having a comment policy for your website and social platforms allows you to more easily moderate conversations with users. But, while you may have established these policies and have them visibly displayed, a reminder is always helpful.
Enid used Facebook to remind their users of what type of content they will delete and what type they allow in comment sections. Having a comment policy for your website and social platforms allows you to more easily moderate conversations with users. But, while you may have established these policies and have them visibly displayed, a reminder is always helpful.
While sharing a crime story on Facebook, the Coloradoan received questions about how they approach covering crime stories. In the comments section of the Facebook post, the news organization explained their crime coverage policy and answered questions from users.
While sharing a crime story on Facebook, the Coloradoan received questions about how they approach covering crime stories. In the comments section of the Facebook post, the news organization explained their crime coverage policy and answered questions from users.
When sharing a story about someone who died by suicide on Facebook, the Coloradoan used the post as a way to explain their approach to covering suicides. The Facebook post read: "It's the Coloradoan's policy not to report on individual suicides unless the act is in a public place or involves a high-profile person, such as in this case. We felt it was important to report on this story to complete our coverage of the case and provide resources for those struggling with mental illness." The news team did a good job responding to commenters in an appropriate tone and used national guidelines from the CDC to help explain their position.
When sharing a story about someone who died by suicide on Facebook, the Coloradoan used the post as a way to explain their approach to covering suicides. The Facebook post read: “It’s the Coloradoan’s policy not to report on individual suicides unless the act is in a public place or involves a high-profile person, such as in this case. We felt it was important to report on this story to complete our coverage of the case and provide resources for those struggling with mental illness.” The news team did a good job responding to commenters in an appropriate tone and used national guidelines from the CDC to help explain their position.
The Coloradoan posted an article on their website explaining why they waited to report on sexual misconduct allegations against a local comedian.
The Coloradoan posted an article on their website explaining why they waited to report on sexual misconduct allegations against a local comedian. To explain why their reporting came later, while other news organizations published it sooner, the article discussed their reporting process to verify the information and the ethical considerations they had to make along the way. When they shared the article on Facebook there was one critical commenter who apologized for earlier comments made after reading the reporting explanation.
The Coloradoan posted an article on their website explaining why they waited to report on sexual misconduct allegations against a local comedian.
The Coloradoan posted an article on their website explaining why they waited to report on sexual misconduct allegations against a local comedian. To explain why their reporting came later, while other news organizations published it sooner, the article discussed their reporting process to verify the information and the ethical considerations they had to make along the way. When they shared the article on Facebook there was one critical commenter who apologized for earlier comments made after reading the reporting explanation.
Screenshot from a Facebook LIVE Q&A with KCRG's news director.
Bring yourself to your audience. That’s what KCRG did when they went live on Facebook to talk about their newsroom values and journalism processes. Some things people wanted to know included how they choose which stories to cover and how they manage social media posts. News managers were involved in the video too. The video received more than 8 thousand views.
Screenshot from The Christian Science Monitor's Facebook page, explaining why a frequent commenter was banned.
The Christian Science Monitor used the negative behavior of a frequent Facebook group commenter as an opportunity to reinforce the values of the group and the news organization. They also asked the community to help them maintain civil dialogue and asked group members what they wanted to get out of the group. The responses validated the value of their Facebook group for the newsroom and also reminded the journalists that sometimes Facebook users need to be reminded about community rules and guidelines.
Screenshot from the Civility Tennessee group page on Facebook.
Hot button issues like racism and gun control can be difficult to have on social media. The Tennessean wanted to create a “safe place” for their community to engage with one another on the platform, so, they created a Facebook group called “Civility Tennessee.” The group has resulted in healthy discussions and over 150 active members posting daily or weekly. The group is “closed” and users have to answer a few questions in order to gain access. This allows the newsroom to have more control over who is in the group and makes moderation a bit easier.
Screenshot from the Civility Tennessee group page on Facebook.
Hot button issues like racism and gun control can be difficult to have on social media. The Tennessean wanted to create a “safe place” for their community to engage with one another on the platform, so, they created a Facebook group called “Civility Tennessee.” The group has resulted in healthy discussions and over 150 active members posting daily or weekly. The group is “closed” and users have to answer a few questions in order to gain access. This allows the newsroom to have more control over who is in the group and makes moderation a bit easier.
Screenshot from WUSA's Facebook page, showing an interview conducted on Facebook LIVE.
Sometimes a story takes off on digital and social platforms. That’s what happened to WUSA when their reporter produced a story about domestic violence. There were so many comments and questions on the story content shared on Facebook that news management decided to give the reporter an entire day to respond and interact with the commenters. WUSA also did a Facebook LIVE with a local domestic violence expert.
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627 likes on a comment! Look for opportunities to explain your process, especially when you see commenters asking questions about it. This comment shows a thoughtfulness behind word choices that not all news consumers would assume journalists have. This example also shows the value of staying involved in the conversations we host and participating in them.
Enid News and Eagle received critical comments after sharing a story on Facebook. The commenter was critical of their overall news coverage, specifically mistakes found in the paper. The news organizations responded to the commenter, explaining where corrections can be found and how the paper strives for accuracy. When responding, Enid also discussed the important role it serves in the community.
Enid News and Eagle received critical comments after sharing a story on Facebook. The commenter was critical of their overall news coverage, specifically mistakes found in the paper. The news organizations responded to the commenter, explaining where corrections can be found and how the paper strives for accuracy. When responding, Enid also discussed the important role it serves in the community.
Screenshot from the comments on a post The Coloradoan made on Facebook, explaining how the news organization handles breaking news updates.
After posting news of a decision in a court case, the Coloradoan received criticism for the lack of information in the story from a Facebook commenter. The news organization responded to the user and explained that this was a breaking news story and they would be updating the story as they confirm details and receive more information.
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Taking the time to respond authentically to comments, especially when people take time to offer real suggestions, can build trust. In this example, a commenter suggested that improvements were needed in how the station chose sources for stories about firearms. When the editor offered his email address and asked for suggestions, a thoughtful and fruitful email exchange resulted.
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The comment sections connected to news stories — on their own platforms and on social media — often remind me of a poorly thrown party. Imagine you decide to have people over. You stock the bar, put on some music and throw open the door. And then you … leave. You hope (assume?) people will be on their best behavior, and you expect to come home to a house that’s still in order. More from this edition can be found here and to receive the tips in your inbox each week click here.
The Day used social media and their reporting to connect members of their community. After two women took an ad out in their newspaper looking for a relative, the Day wrote a story about it. After the story published, they found the relative and the Day wrote a follow-up story. When sharing the story link on Facebook the news organization highlighted how their reporting helped reunite the family.
The Day used social media and their reporting to connect members of their community. After two women took an ad out in their newspaper looking for a relative, the Day wrote a story about it. After the story published, they found the relative and the Day wrote a follow-up story. When sharing the story link on Facebook the news organization highlighted how their reporting helped reunite the family.