Building news savvy: Best practices
Ask Me Anything
WHAT IS IT?
The Day invited questions and feedback from its community during a series of “Ask Me Anything” sessions on Facebook. Readers asked The Day staff about coverage decisions, comments policies and other editorial processes — and received detailed responses within minutes. “It’s amazing what happens when you ask readers for feedback, then show up and listen,” Trusting News director Joy Mayer wrote on Twitter. (The Day is a Trusting News participant.)
WHO’S BEHIND IT?
The Day’s “Ask Me” sessions featured a rotating cast of reporters and editors. They included digital news director Carlos Virgen, director of multimedia Peter Huoppi and reporters Erica Moser, Martha Shanahan and Lindsay Boyle. The Day is a heralded legacy newspaper in Connecticut that reaches about 100,000 readers in print and receives more than three million monthly page views. In 2017, The Day received New England Newspaper of the Year honors, making it eight out of the last ten years.
DOES IT WORK?
Early clues: The Day’s first general session and a later one on user comments generated more than 25 question-and-answer threads. Sessions focused on photography and the news pages sparked less engagement. Elsewhere, the format has been catching on at news outlets such as the Washington Post, which hosted several Ask Me Anything sessions in 2017 on Reddit.
HOW TO DO IT
The Day announced the series on its website and invited readers to submit questions in advance. The live chats on Facebook took place at noon on Mondays and ran for about an hour. Participating staff members responded to every question and suggestion (including the loaded ones), provided thoughtful explanations of their work and processes, and even acknowledged mistakes. Each session ended with a comment inviting further questions and linking out to The Day’s Trusting News page.