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Today, were launching the Engaged Journalism Experiments Directory, the latest resource from the Engaged Journalism Accelerator to inspire news organisations to create more impactful relationships with their communities.
The directory brings together 30+ experiments that community-driven organisations, including Zetland (Denmark), Inside Story (Greece), Honolulu Civil Beat (United States) and Krautreporter (Germany), have run to forge deeper ties with their users.
Organisations have kindly shared details of their experiments, including how long they ran these for, the tools they used and the barriers they came up against, so others can learn from these and try them for themselves.
Experiments submitted to our beta directory include:
an email campaign to re-engage former paying customers, resulting in a 30 per cent open rate and three offers of support for an investigation
office hours with reporters on Facebook Live, which regularly attracted an audience of 2,000-4,000 viewers
a partnership with a high school to teach students about solutions journalism, which received great feedback and led to a podcast created by two participating students
Browse through the experiments or filter them by country or topic (such as engagement and distribution, or commissioning and storytelling) to find one that you could try in your own organisation.
Journalists and editors in news organisations across the world have some ideas about what their communities want from them. But those assumptions arent always grounded in experience and can be misplaced. Not only that but the risk of placing a bet on developing a new product or feature that users dont actually want or need is high. So publishers, particularly small and medium-sized organisations, must embark on a continuous process of designing, prototyping and testing their way to serving the needs of their communities.
When the Accelerator thinks about experiments, what we mean by an experiment is a test or trial that has a clear aim, measures of success (also known as Key Performance Indicators) and an end date to evaluate what has been learnt. An experiment doesnt always mean launching something shiny and new; it could also mean improving something that your organisation is already doing or stopping something that is rarely used or has little impact and seeing if users miss it.
Success isnt a defining characteristic either: some of the best experiments are ones which have failed and still yielded lots of insight.
If youre interested in reading more about the role of experimentation in news organisations, we recommend the following articles:
More newsrooms experiments their way to success (Nieman Lab, 2018)
10 tips for successful newsroom experiments (Journalism.co.uk, 2014)
The 11 best experiments in journalism (Columbia Journalism Review, 2015)
When we spoke to journalists across Europe, the idea of experimenting with engaged journalism approaches appealed to them. But, time and time again, they told us they didnt know where to start nor did they have much time or resources to invest in trying new ideas.
Those two insights suggested that we could make it quicker and easier for news organisations of all sizes to find and try out experiments that help them discover a model for community engagement that works for them. You can read more about the directory here.
By launching this resource in beta, we hope to gather feedback from practitioners across Europe about the experiments in this directory as well as its format, so that we can develop a more useful and comprehensive index.
The directory has been created using Airtable, a cloud-based spreadsheet app with lots of nice visual features. You can find out more about it here. We have used it previously to create our Engaged Journalism in Europe database.
There are three ways we envision people will use the directory:
Sort - you can filter columns to find news organisations that you're interested in (for example, you might want to look at organisational structures that are non-profit)
Search - you can look for a particular organisation that you know is working closely with its community (try 'collaborative' or 'Walkin Talkin' for starters) or look for specific terms to see where they appear (for example, 'podcast' or 'Facebook')
Scan - you can browse when you have some downtime and see what you find!