Building news savvy: Best practices
WHAT IS IT?
The Ogden Standard-Examiner hosted conversations on social media, invited community members to report delivery problems, asked for nominations for the town’s best Mexican restaurant and clarified its sign-in policy. Importantly, the news outlet consistently responded to user comments on social media, helping educate its audience about how the news is made.
WHO’S BEHIND IT?
The Standard Examiner is a daily newspaper serving Northern Utah. The newsroom partnered with Joy Mayer and the Reynolds Journalism Institute’s Trusting News project to test a range of trust-building strategies, grouped under themes such as “Engage Authentically” and “Tell Your Story.” Newsrooms are urged to share story progress, host meaningful conversations and “interact like a human.” Results from the first phase of the project newsrooms are here. Dozens more newsrooms have joined.
DOES IT WORK?
Communities and newsrooms vary, so a technique that works in one place may not in another. Of the Standard-Examiner’s tests during the first phase, 18 were “especially successful” or ideas to steal and 11 “fell flat.”) Results were especially good for hosted conversations. Consistent replies to comments encouraged discussion, driving views and shares. On the other hand, a soundless text-on-video post detailing ways to reach the newsroom didn’t meet expectations.
HOW TO DO IT
See the Trusting News tip sheet on being accessible and responsive. Specifics: Have easy-to-find contact info, invite input on coverage decisions, and bring community members into the newsroom. “Have a goal,” the Trusting News team says, “of responding to every reasonable message and piece of feedback you get.” Replying to your audience — whether it is a simple “like” on a comment or a full-blown reflection — shows that you’re listening.