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.
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.
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 added a note to the top of a story about allegations of sexual misconduct against a local comedian.
The Coloradoan added a note to the top of a story about allegations of sexual misconduct against a local comedian. The newspaper posted their story on the issue later than other news organizations and wanted to explain why. The note read: “To investigate this story, the Coloradoan spent the past month vetting accounts, speaking to police and interviewing all parties involved before publishing this story.” In addition, they wrote a separate editorial about their decision to wait on publishing that explained their reporting process and decision making.
After sharing some information about how they cover crime on Facebook, the Coloradoan decided to write a web story going into more detail about what their crime coverage policy is. By creating a separate page they are able to link to this when future questions up and can easily update it if their policy changes.
After sharing some information about how they cover crime on Facebook, the Coloradoan decided to write a web story going into more detail about what their crime coverage policy is. By creating a separate page they are able to link to this when future questions up and can easily update it if their policy changes.
WCNC does not normally air the raw footage of officer involved shootings but after reviewing the body camera footage and discussing it internally, they decided to air portions of video from obtained from local police. Since this was something their users may not be used to seeing, they wrote a story on their website about their decision to air the video and how they came to their decision.
WCNC does not normally air the raw footage of officer-involved shootings but after reviewing the body camera footage and discussing it internally, they decided to air portions of video from obtained from local police. Since this was something their users may not be used to seeing, they wrote a story on their website about their decision to air the video and how they came to their decision.
The Virginian-Pilot wrote a story explaining how it writes headlines. The piece discussed how digital and print headlines may be different sometimes and explaining their approach to subject.
The Virginian-Pilot wrote a story explaining how it writes headlines. The piece discussed how digital and print headlines may be different sometimes and explaining their approach to subject.
The Virginian-Pilot wrote a story explaining how their "letters to the editor" section works. It talked about how stories are selected and who is in charge of selecting the stories. The explanation post was also published in print.
The Virginian-Pilot wrote a story explaining how their “letters to the editor” section works. It talked about how stories are selected and who is in charge of selecting the stories. The explanation post was also published in print.
Sometimes explaining why you are not covering a story is just as helpful for your users as explaining why you are covering one. KCRG did just that when users asked them why they were not covering all school threats happening in the community. They decided to write an explainer story on their website explaining when and why they will cover school threats and also when they will not. The policy was one that was known inside the newsroom but it was the first time they were making their policy public.
Sometimes explaining why you are not covering a story is just as helpful for your users as explaining why you are covering one. KCRG did just that when users asked them why they were not covering all school threats happening in the community. They decided to write an explainer story on their website explaining when and why they will cover school threats and also when they will not. The policy was one that was known inside the newsroom but it was the first time they were making their policy public.
When a suicide occurred on campus, Annenberg Media staff were torn on whether or not they should report on the incident. As they debated their options and talked about the legal issues internally, they also decided to share their thought process and reporting process with their users. Several of the reporters and news managers/professors were interviewed about why they covered the suicide. In the video, posted to Instagram and YouTube, the journalists discussed their policy when it comes to covering suicides and also linked to mental health resources available for those in need.
When a suicide occurred on campus, Annenberg Media staff were torn on whether or not they should report on the incident. As they debated their options and talked about the legal issues internally, they also decided to share their thought process and reporting process with their users. Several of the reporters and news managers/professors were interviewed about why they covered the suicide. In the video, posted to Instagram and YouTube, the journalists discussed their policy when it comes to covering suicides and also linked to mental health resources available for those in need.
As journalists, we sometimes forget that words in our daily vocabulary might not be familiar to readers. The Virginian-Pilot created a plain-language glossary, explaining terms like wire, editorial, exclusive, and more. Having this reference can come in handy when readers have questions, like whether "analysis" is news or opinion.
As journalists, we sometimes forget that words in our daily vocabulary might not be familiar to readers. The Virginian-Pilot created a plain-language glossary, explaining terms like wire, editorial, exclusive, and more. Having this reference can come in handy when readers have questions, like whether “analysis” is news or opinion.
The Virginian-Pilot wrote a story explaining the difference between news, opinion and analysis in their paper. The discussed how they define each title and how users can tell them apart.
The Virginian-Pilot wrote a story explaining the difference between news, opinion and analysis in their paper. The discussed how they define each title and how users can tell them apart.
WITF decided to share their ethics policy and explain how it impacts their news decisions. In the post, on their webiste, the newsroom discussed how, when and why it may use anonymous sources, how it handles corrections, how it handles story selection and more.
WITF decided to share their ethics policy and explain how it impacts their news decisions. In the post, on their website, the newsroom discussed how, when and why it may use anonymous sources, how it handles corrections, how it handles story selection and more.
The Standard-Examiner hosted a Facebook Live to describe how their news process works. During the video the newspaper's executive editor and publisher talked about how they make coverage decisions, select stories and how the editorial process works. They took questions live from the audience and received more than 2,000 views.
The Standard-Examiner hosted a Facebook Live to describe how their news process works. During the video, the newspaper’s executive editor and publisher talked about how they make coverage decisions, select stories and how the editorial process works. They took questions live from the audience and received more than 2,000 views.
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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.
When a commenter on Facebook was critical of language included in a story, the Enid staff responded directly and explained why the information was included. For this particular story, the information was coming directly from an affidavit so the journalist explained that it was official information from a court document and that is why they decided to include it in their story.
When a commenter on Facebook was critical of language included in a story, the Enid staff responded directly and explained why the information was included. For this particular story, the information was coming directly from an affidavit so the journalist explained that it was official information from a court document and that is why they decided to include it in their story.
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.
Annenberg Media realized it was in need of a corrections policy. In the process of creating one, they also took a look at their ethics policy and decided to share it with the public. In addition to making the policy public, they built it in a way that could be searched by keywords. They also wrote it in a way that non-journalists could understand. They did not include any industry jargon and tried to think as a user when categorizing and building the webpage.
Annenberg Media realized it was in need of a corrections policy. In the process of creating one, they also took a look at their ethics policy and decided to share it with the public. In addition to making the policy public, they built it in a way that could be searched by keywords. They also wrote it in a way that non-journalists could understand. They did not include any industry jargon and tried to think like a user when categorizing and building the webpage.
Breaking news is a term that elicits varied feelings for journalists. It seems to always be a hectic time, with people and information moving at lightning speeds. It’s also when news organizations have an opportunity to fulfill one of their top duties: providing accurate information to the public. While a lot of us thrive and feel an adrenaline rush during breaking news situations, it’s also a time when most mistakes happen. And our audiences notice. To read more from this edition click here and you can sign up for the weekly “Trust Tips” newsletter by clicking here.
You’ve probably heard it by now: The public doesn’t know what “anonymous source” means. I experienced this firsthand while talking to a group of video game journalists several years ago. Their assumption was that when a journalist quotes someone anonymously, the journalist doesn’t know the identity of the person and has never talked to the person. I explained that in most cases the journalist knows the source’s identity, and their editor likely does as well. After explaining this, it felt like everyone had lightbulbs going off inside their heads. More from this edition can be found here and to receive the tips in your inbox each week click here.
When faced with suicide, journalists have decisions to make — about whether to publish, but also about things like whether to use names and photos, what details to include and what words to use. Those decisions often take into account whether the death was in their own community or happened elsewhere, whether it happened publicly or privately, and whether the person involved was a public or private figure. It’s important not to forget, however, that newsroom decisions and policies are largely invisible to audiences. To read more from this edition click here and you can sign up for the weekly “Trust Tips” newsletter by clicking here.
Whether it’s the TV affiliation your station has or your corporate owner based on the other side of the country, talking about and being transparent about who owns your news organization can be an important part of earning the trust of your users. For many reporters and possibly even editors, the impact of who owns the paper, website, or TV or radio station may not be felt on a daily basis. But do you tell your users that? To read more from this edition click here and you can sign up for the weekly “Trust Tips” newsletter by clicking here.
The Day used Facebook to answer questions from users about how their news process works. They used the opportunity to explain story selection, coverage priorities and their journalism ethics. The Q&A, conducted through the comments section of the post on Facebook, reached more than 5,000 people and almost all of the feedback was positive, even when the answer was not exactly what the user wanted to hear.
The Day used Facebook to answer questions from users about how their news process works. They used the opportunity to explain story selection, coverage priorities and their journalism ethics. The Q&A, conducted through the comments section of the post on Facebook, reached more than 5,000 people and almost all of the feedback was positive, even when the answer was not exactly what the user wanted to hear.
Video: How to Submit a Letter to the Editor
The Tennessean produced a 41-second video  for users explaining how to submit a “letter to the editor.” They included information about where to send the letter and how many words it should be (250 or less). The video is concise and to the point. More importantly, it can be embedded on the website or easily shared on social and by including text on the screen, it is easily consumable.
Video: How to Submit a Letter to the Editor
The Tennessean produced a 41-second video  for users explaining how to submit a “letter to the editor.” They included information about where to send the letter and how many words it should be (250 or less). The video is concise and to the point. More importantly, it can be embedded on the website or easily shared on social and by including text on the screen, it is easily consumable.