As schools in Philadelphia were having discussions about opening in the fall amidst the coronavirus outbreak, Chalkbeat reached out to its audience to get their feedback on the issue. “Chalkbeat wants to gain perspective from parents, students, and school staff. Tell us your feedback, concerns, and lingering questions below,” the post read.
WCPO asked their users what they wanted to know from candidates ahead of their elections reporting.”Usually, the journalists are the ones who ask the questions. Especially during election season, when campaigns often tell constituents what the campaigns want to tell them, instead of what the constituents want to hear,” senior reporter Larry Seward wrote in a column about the station’s efforts. “So that’s why we want to flip things around this year. We want to know what YOU want to know. We created the form below so that we could build an engagement map for how our viewers want these campaigns covered.” Seward said the public responses brought up questions for candidates the reporters wouldn’t have otherwise asked.
Before the Atlanta Journal-Constitution published Q&A’s with candidates running for open seats in Georgie, they asked their readers to share their questions, they might want to be included in the questionnaires. “What issues are most important to you? And what would you ask candidates if you had the chance? Your suggestions could be included in our questionnaires and/or contribute to other election stories.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Vox launched a contributions project to ensure they could keep their journalism free for the public to read. In a column explaining the new initiative, the staff was clear to explain how advertising and the newsroom’s funding had changed since the beginning of the pandemic and directly listed all the ways contributions would be used to help continue producing important journalism. “Vox provides all of its content free — and we are committed to keeping it that way. Vox Media has a very diversified business, but without a subscription product or a paywall at Vox, advertising is still a major revenue source for our network,” the article read. This work was done independently from Trusting News but embodies the work we do.
As election season quickly approaches, there is a lot of information (and misinformation) floating around. So have you asked your audience what they might be confused about when it comes to participating in the upcoming election? Maybe you’ve posted to Twitter or Facebook asking users to share general questions or thoughts related to the election, which is one avenue for getting feedback or story ideas. But another great way to open up a conversation with your audience and remind them you’re a community resource is to ask for specific questions — and then answer those questions in real-time. Because of all the recent confusion and conflicting information surrounding voting by mail, staff at The Fulcrum decided they wanted to provide clarity around the issue. So reporters Sara Swann and Bill Theobald hosted a Reddit AMA, or Ask Me Anything, where they asked their readers what questions they had about voting by mail and voting in general during COVID times. The duo ended up responding to dozens of thoughtful reader questions, ranging from how long it could take to get results to what protocols are being put into place to safeguard the voting by mail process. More from this edition can be found here and to receive the tips in your inbox each week click here.
KPRC 2 in Houston published a story where they put all their frequently asked questions about COVID-19 from viewers. The story included answers to questions like how the virus spreads to testing sites to how ventilators worked. By compiling user feedback and questions in one central place, the station can easily link to it whenever they get questions about coronavirus in the future.
During hectic breaking news coverage, social media is often a go-to place for the latest information, live streams, questions, answers and, unfortunately, misinformation. At Trusting News, we always encourage newsrooms to engage with their users, but now it may be more important than ever. More from this edition can be found here and to receive the tips in your inbox each week click here.
The State highlighted reader’s responses by posting a roundup of people’s comments and reactions to popular news stories that week. When the comment was a question about the facts of the news story or how the journalists put the story together, they answered them. Here is one of the responses provided: “Why did we write this story? The public scrutinizes so many aspects of candidates’ work and lives, and journalists make continual judgment calls about what information is interesting and relevant, and therefore worthy of coverage. Reader feedback about those judgment calls is always welcome.”
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.
Screenshot from USA TODAY's Facebook page, highlighting how a story came together: "A USA TODAY reader wanted to know the details. Here's what we gathered"
USA TODAY used a reader’s question to build a story. The news organization could have responded directly to the question on social media but decided to take it a step further and make the answer its own story while highlighting the user and their question. It allowed the reader to get mentioned and feel “really seen” by the news organization.
Screenshot showing a form embedded on thegazette.com, asking readers "What questions do you have?"
The Gazette started using Google Forms to ask users if anything in their stories needed more reporting or explanation. The forms were primarily created for local stories they wanted to dig into more. This resulted in information for them to advance the story, and also, sometimes led to a new story to cover.
Screenshot from thegazette.com, showing a shaded box where the paper asked readers for feedback and ideas.
To help get more ideas on who they should talk to in their community, the Gazette decided to ask their users for help. Through a shaded pull-out box embedded in a web story, they asked for ideas identifying possible sources and general feedback on the story. In this example, it resulted in the newsroom receiving a handful of story ideas.
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.
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 Fort Worth Star-Telegram page on Facebook. The image says: Readers, what do you want to see from us this year?
Meet readers where they are—on social media—to make it easy for them to share feedback and story ideas you might have missed. Responding to comments gave the Star-Telegram team additional opportunities to learn about their audience, share their ethics and values, and highlight recent coverage.