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19:31

Lessons on how to engage with audiences

Jim Brady, former editor of TBD.com and WashingtonPost.com, set the tone for a professional panel on engaging the audience at #ISOJ by saying they were going to stick to time and leave plenty of time for questions.

First up was Espen Egil Hansen, editor-in-chief of VG Multimedia, Norway. He started by stating that he tells his journalists to spend a minimum of 10% of time interacting and engaging with readers.

Three-quarters of Norwegians visited the site in February, with 87% coming to the homepage, compared to only 4% from Google.

VG’s approach has been to figure out how we can help the readers help each other.

Hansen highlighted how last year during the travel disruption caused by the Icelandic volcano, a developer created a quick and dirty site to help people help each other get home.

In return, readers sent in stories and pictures about their journey home.

VG also has a tool that lets a selecte group of readers correct typos.  5,000 readers applied to correct typos and 400 were selected to fix typos on the site. 17,000 typos were reported last year, said Hansen.

Another example cited by Hansen was the paper’s response to the disaster in Japan.  VG set up a paper with a live feed of Japanese TV, but also updates from journalists and from readers.

He also showed how during the swine flu, VG created a wiki site inviting users to let others know where they could get a flu shoot.

Hansen said the paper had progressed from a monologue to dialogue. But today, there is another viral layer which taps into social media.

He said VG wanted to be something in the middle between traditional journalism and social media.

Washington Post’s approach to Twitter

Amanda Zamora, social media and engagement editor, The Washington Post, described her job as taking the “earmuff off this sleeping giant.”

She talked about how reporters are using social platforms such as Twitter as a newsgathering tool.

“We’ve learnt a lot from Twitter,” she said, for example by using the hashtag to actively frame the conversation.

She outlined the approach as call, response, reward.

The sign of success is if you issue a call, you get a response, said Zamora, not the number of followers. People who take part are rewarded by bring that content back into the Washpost site.

The paper uses Google forms as a way for people to send in what they know on specific stories, for example on power outages in DC.

One of the ways the Post is experimenting is using Intersect, which can blend accounts from both journalists and readers.

 

 

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