Engaging readers

Joy Mayer will be with us in class this week to talk about engaging readers. I’ll be blunt: Right now, we’re not great at this. We try to keep up with readers’ comments and take part in the conversation after publication.

One of the things we haven’t quite figured out at the Missourian is how to engage readers before publication.Or how to keep them engaged in an ongoing story or effort. Or how to keep ourselves engaged, post-publication.

Joy has done a lot of thinking and writing about this. I’ve already assigned chapters 10 and 11 in the book, but I would also like you to read, “What does “engagement” really mean?“,
So long, ‘Wizard of Oz’ journalism. Let’s make margaritas!” and  “What Engagement Means…“. (None of these are very long.)

Take a long look at the diagram in that third post; it’s kind of  a mind-blower. What would you create in those spaces?

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3 Responses to Engaging readers

  1. kacieflynn says:

    This is an important issue to have a discussion about, especially with new or aspiring journalists. Particularly because the climate we’ll be working in is much more conducive for enhanced pre and post publication engagement. In Joy’s piece, she asked what’s are the journalist’s responsibilities for the “child” they birthed? This is an excellent question. I know often times we as journalists come from the idea that we are supposed to supply the facts, put them in context and let the readers decide what to make of it. This can undoubtedly be beneficial. However, it can also be detrimental if this laissez faire approach turns into apathy. We have to be sure that our work is received in the way we intended, and that the discussion that arises from it (if we’re lucky) is properly tended to. In a fast paced atmosphere, it’s easy to publish something and then jump directly into something else, leaving your previous work to fend for itself. The reporter’s input can be vital to a discussion. Clarification and elaboration are two things that can come from post-publication engagement, and I’d be willing to bet are the two things readers need most after reading pieces. So, if nothing else comes from post-publication engagement, the ability to give readers a better understanding of our work is enough for me.

  2. Margaritas!!!

    I actually just wrote a longer post on this on my blog, but Joy’s Trib/Second City reference really got me thinking about this. A girl in class said she spend a lot of time at the Trib in high school… I spent a lot of time at Second City, both the club and the school.

    I think comedy can be a very powerful tool for journalists because of the way it opens the doors for discussion. I’ve been very involved in both comedy and journalism and I see so much overlap in the skills required and the process. At Second City, there were always people writing jokes and sketches on issues people who live in Chicago have with Chicago. Isn’t that what we’re looking for as journalists? Isn’t that a conversation we need to be aware of? Making people laugh and making people read both require connection… Tapping into some shared experience or feeling people relate to.

    To me bringing the clever observational jokes is the same thing as bringing the cocktails.

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