Digital Leaders Share Challenges, Ideas

For its second News Engagement Workshop, the Center for Media Engagement brought together a group of digital news leaders including, from left: Jennifer Carroll, Gannett Digital; Barry Osborne, The Denver Post; Alex Quinn, e.thePeople; Wright Bryan, NPR; Dr. Natalie Stroud, Center for Media Engagement; Todd Olmstead, The Wall Street Journal; Allison Rockey, Vox; Enrique Lavin, NJ Advance Media; and Megan Chan, Politico.

The Center for Media Engagement recently hosted its second News Engagement Workshop, bringing together 11 digital news innovators to discuss current practices and future possibilities.
During the two-day workshop, participants brainstormed an array of new ideas about digital news. Some of their ideas include:

  • Metrics-based goal setting: Have journalists set goals for their stories and then evaluate whether they met the goal
  • Was this helpful?: Provide a rating scale allowing readers to give feedback about whether news stories are helpful
  • Tailor article length: Create articles of different lengths to cater to different readers
  • Citizen-focused reporting: Combat political polarization by giving citizens more voice in political stories

“Too often we let the politicians drive the news cycle,” said Wright Bryan of NPR. “Instead we should put politicians in the middle of the story, and instead put Jane X at the top of the story and explain how she’s being affected by the law, the federal program, the corporation – whatever it is.”
A major topic of conversation during the workshop was audience involvement. Some of the participants shared what has worked in their newsrooms in terms of engaging audiences, while others shared what they hope to achieve through audience involvement.
“We want our audience to come to us when they don’t have to,” said Rachel Clarke, senior editor for CNN Digital. “If we can build and engage an audience that knows who we are and how they fit in and how they can benefit from us – that would be a great thing to achieve.”
Other topics discussed at the workshop include:

  • Digital Success and Analytics – How can analytics and engagement best be incorporated throughout the practice of making the news? What new metrics would you want?
  • Website Design – What are best practices and new ideas for providing visitors with reasons to keep coming back?
  • Political Polarization – What could newsrooms do to affect levels of polarization?
  • Questions Facing the Digital Newsroom – What do you wish you knew about metrics, workflow, mobile, and keeping pace with technology?

“We learned so much from our first News Engagement Workshop, and we were excited to host another workshop with new participants,” said Dr. Natalie Stroud, director of the Center for Media Engagement. “All these digital innovators have such great ideas for how to improve online news, and this was an opportunity for them to share those ideas with us and each other. We look forward to doing research to test out several of their ideas.”
For more findings from the workshop, download the full report on our website. Photos from the workshop can be viewed on the Center for Media Engagement’s Facebook page.
Participants included:
Wright Bryan, NPR
Jennifer Carroll, Gannett Digital
Megan Chan, Politico
Rachel Clarke, CNN
Ryan Kellett, The Washington Post
Enrique Lavin, NJ Advance Media
Allison Lichter, The Wall Street Journal
Todd Olmstead, The Wall Street Journal
Barry Osborne, The Denver Post
Allison Rockey, Vox
Ben Turk Tolub,