Community and conversation are not just an outcome of journalism but an essential component of it. Think about all the ways in which you can create an environment for listening to your community, sharing meaningful stories and responding to people's questions, wants and needs. Here are some ideas to get you started.

Use your community as a tool to further your reporting. Assigning stories to the community is Crowdsourcing 101, of course. You don’t need the excuse of a giant investigation or major news event to take advantage of the wisdom of your crowd.

Find ways to highlight comments from your community. Making those voices a clear part of the content on your site is an excellent way to reward participation and encourage more of it. And crucially, it’s often great content in its own right, regardless of its origins.

Join the community. Read and respond to comment threads, set the direction and tone of the conversation, and encourage helpful contributions.

Taken from Developing a Successful Journalistic Blog, a self-directed course by Matt Thompson at Poynter NewsU.

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