Engaging the Audience


So how do audience engagement editors do their jobs?   This is a brand new job, and its remit varies from one organisation to the next.   In CJR, the Wall Street Journal’s audience engagement editor, Carla Zanoni, described her team as ‘shoe-leather reporters’,who in the wake of a fatal shooting incident, did a number of different things.

The team simultaneously verified information, promoted Journal articles and social media posts on the killings, managed reader comments, and shuffled online feedback and analytics to their colleagues. “The audience team is just like your shoe-leather reporters,” says Carla Zanoni, head of emerging media and audience development, “in that they feel like this is what they’ve been training for.”….They elevate a publication’s online persona by creating Web-friendly headlines, prioritizing when and on which social platforms stories are posted, and patrolling notoriously dicey comment sections.

For John Ketchum, at the Centre for Public Integrity, it’s all about analytics.   He spends two days a week crunching numbers.   And according to Mediashift, Will Federman at Fortune has one dedicated monitor for Chartbeat analytics.

“I’m looking at it constantly,” he said. “I tend to trust the data more than I trust my gut. People sometimes think we dabble in dark magic, but we are just looking at numbers.” Keeping up with changes in technology is another major part of his job. “With this job you can’t feel like you know everything,” Federman said. “One day Google or Facebook will alter their algorithm. You have to be totally open to change. If you don’t have an adaptive personality it’s a difficult job.”

Meanwhile, Mother Jones’s Audience Engagement Editor Ben Dreyfuss gives some advice about how to talk on social media.

The main operating theory has been that every headline we have and every tweet and every Facebook post needs to sound like a human would say it. Social media has made people better writers because of that.  The worst thing in the world is when you’re in college in a creative writing class and people write like a 19th century gay poet. The fact is affectation is a killer on social media. Just write the way you talk.

He was asked what would happen to him if the internet was down for twenty-four hours.  The answer is telling.

If the internet were down for 24 hours, I would freak out for 24 hours straight. However, I suspect my therapist would say that it would be the most emotionally maturing 24 hours of my life.

NPROne_rectangle_1READING: Out of Many, NPR One: the app that wants to be the Netflix of Listening gets more local (Nieman Lab)           Deciphering What the Next Generation of Public Radio Listeners wants Through NPR One (Nieman Lab) 

ASSIGNMENT  Write a 400-word blogpost reviewing the NPR One app.   To do so, please download the app on a mobile device.  It will not work on a laptop.   Then listen to an hour’s worth of material on the app, and play with tagging and skipping stories.  When you write the blogpost, please list the stories presented to you, noting the efficacy of the app’s customization and what you perceive to be the biggest differences with listening to local radio.  Did you feel the content offered was tailored to your interests?   In particular, how interested were you in the local content offered, and what other local content would you like to have?  How would you grade the app?

(for Jan 31 8pm, rubric here)



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From wnyc.org

#boredandbrilliant is the latest word in audience engagement.  And it’s pretty compelling.  The New York public radio station, WNYC’s tech show, New Tech City, has launched a weeklong set of challenges to help you detach from technology – in particular “detach from your phone and spend more time thinking creatively.”

Day 1 challenge was to keep your phone in your pocket or bag.  Day 2 is a photo-free day.  Surprisingly hard.  Here’s the argument why you should try it, courtesy of wnyc website.

This week I hope you will spend less time on phones and listening to music, and more time hearing the world around you.  The assignment is an audio project of 2’30 or less.  It can take the form of an interview with one person, a radio story, an audio diary or something more experimental – like a phone-in show –  so long as you stick with the theme.  It should be a piece about digital disruption or technological change, and the effect that is having upon your beat.   You could choose to focus on one person’s story or do something wider.   Please post to your blogs by 12th February using Soundcloud.