“What’s in it for me?” Adding capacity to newsrooms and convincing newsroom skeptics of the value of engagement

Session Host: Caitlin Moran
Reporter: Fiona Morgan

Public Insight Network – “Do more with less” is no possible.
Idea was to do more with more: story ideas, technology, thinking
The reality: PIN produced more leads and sources, but didn’t increase the number of reporters to follow those leads

Newsrooms must learn to not do some things so they can do other things – recognize opportunity cost
Busy =/= productive

Many reporters who have access to the PIN database don’t use it
Idea has always been that PIN will help reporters do better journalism
It’s a “mindset and a toolset”

What has worked to get reporters to use PIN: demonstrate success to generate enthusiasm

Seattle Times: Reporters started to see the value of engagement project after attending events and developing sources, stories

Strategy: Find early adopters in the newsroom who are willing to try – the weird, curious ones

How do you get leadership (publishers) to buy in?

Find allies in the newsroom first; congratulate them and praise them publicly on their wins

Engagement IRL creates personal connections
> stories come out of it
-> not as expensive as you might expect
Institutional progress in baby steps
Newsroom culture trumps innovative leadership
Bottom-line terms
biz side wants new audiences
reporters want new sources & stories
Partners want reach of stories
These are mutually reinforcing goals
That lead to a strategy of live events – which are expensive
Use evaluation to measure success

Reinforce the behavior you want to see
Keep on telling the story of your success
Give awards – PIN gives a bowling pin award to reporters

Example: the “not Latino enough” story idea was generated by a station news clerk. It brought great response and many new Latino/a listeners – news clerk got the award for that idea

Enthusiasm can create pressure on people with pursestrings – and that’s OK

“Was it worth it?” You can’t determine the answer to that question unless you determine clear, concrete, measurable goals beforehand

Need to clearly identify the role of the newsroom staff in event planning – likely not logistics

Outside of a media organization, how do you motivate people to participate in engagement event? Recognize people for the contribution of their time. In Seattle, civic events recognized attendees as “citizen counsellors”
Think about the psychological rewards of participation

Another example: Yes! Magazine did a convening around mapping
Partnered with an existing monthly happy hour meetup, drew on their mailing list and relationships with beer/ food providers
Yes! Brought to that a network of happenings that that audience was interested in

Ways to make things visible:
Digital badging – makes contributions visible
Mapping of networks – a form of content that makes relationships visible

Organizations need a “connector” – someone to play the role of bridging newsroom and marketing
(marketing, tho??)
Reporters ill situated to create community partnerships

Ashley at PIN used an FAQ to clarify “what you can expect from the media”
Ground rules –
This gets at ethics, transparency, expectations

Yes! Is trying smaller, more intimate events that will tap into the expertise of community/readers on an issue

Successful engagement has a “primo effect” (primo = Spanish for cousin)
As 12 people may read one physical copy of a magazine bc they pass it along, so can engagement of one person in a meaningful way generate goodwill among people in their networks

When getting buy-in from publishers, could use public media numbers to extrapolate the possible bottom-line impact
Understand what metrics matter to them

Can an independent nonprofit (Free Press) play that connector role? Definitely not a marketing role, more community organizing

Use issue rather than “media” as conversation started to make for better convenings

Capacity can mean (start with) getting people in a room to name what is needed in the community
Connecting is building capacity