"Growing Audience Through Engaging Communities" and What I Learned from the ASNE/APME Conference

The American Society of Newspaper Editors and Associated Press Media Editors conference was held September 15 to the 17 in Chicago this year, and I was lucky enough to attend the second day of the conference. I took the time to view some of the presentations in the early afternoon, and it was an encouraging experience.

I sat in on the "The New News Ecology: What can we learn from startups?" presentation, which was a conversation between Jim Bankoff and Lauren Rabaino. This was particularly enthralling for anyone in my generation because young journalists are entering an age of technology that engages audiences in totally different ways. Journalism, like most professions, evolves and deals with the challenges of the time. Startups, such as Vox Media of which Bankoff is CEO, show great promise in the realm of technology and demonstrate a different interaction of audiences by discussing topics and allowing journalists to be transparent.

With that said, the "Growing Audience Through Engaging Communities" presentation dived even deeper into this topic of interacting with audiences and allowing for greater transparency. With the focus of diversity and representing the audience, organizations like Engagement Hub, Unite Rochester, Oakland Voices and We Create Here have come up with different ways to create that engagement.

My favorite endeavor was We Create Here which is a part of Cedar Rapids Gazette in Iowa. Kiran Sood, one of the reporters working on this project, said she would send out notices to the community and invited them to come together to discuss a specific issue. Sood would listen, weigh in on an issue and even offer her opinion to the people she was aiming to represent. This is the kind of engagement that takes place with new startups, except this is in person rather than online.

There is so much that these organizations did to properly represent their diverse communities and some key ideas that really resonated with me, and other journalists attending, was the importance of reaching out. Our audience members want to be heard, and they want journalists to have a two-way dialog with them. This is a big change for our profession.

Attendees of the conference text speakers terms that drive engagement which formed this word cloud  (photo by me)

Attendees of the conference text speakers terms that drive engagement which formed this word cloud (photo by me)

So after all of this and taking a look at other presentations, I honestly would like to try engaging with the people of the beat that I am covering. It really does take more than sitting there and listening to a source. I really want to try and understand the Japanese and South Korean communities in Chicago, and I'll go about doing this by adopting some of the trials that Sood and others tested.