3 cool ideas to steal from local news

This piece originally appeared in Local Edition, our newsletter following the digital transformation of local news. Want to be part of the conversation? You can sign up here.

One of the best things about going to journalism conferences, other than getting to socialize with other journalists, is all the ideas you can take home with you. At many conferences, you get them one session at a time. But at the annual conference for Local Independent Online News Publishers, they come at you one after another.

I ended up missing this year’s conference, but I remembered all the great ideas from last year’s. Then, I remembered that they put videos of every session on their site. The following are three cool ideas you can try for yourself. You can also watch the full sessions here.

Share the accountability

East Lansing Info, an online nonprofit in East Lansing, Michigan, puts a priority on accuracy by encouraging its audience to hold the newsroom accountable, too. When someone spots a factual error and lets the editor know, that person gets a newsroom T-shirt.

“They’re small things, but we say to people when you’re reading, we want you to read all the time for ‘is this true, is this true?’” publisher and president Alice Dreger told LION attendees. “We’re trying to do media literacy in our city at the same time we’re doing news.”

Share the load

At the Wausau Pilot and Review, a nonprofit newsroom in Wisconsin, covering city and county issues isn’t hard, but getting out to meetings at surrounding villages is. So that newsroom enlists citizens to sit in at meetings that aren’t televised and then submit 350 words about what they observed. The local meetings bloggers make about $30 per meeting. It helps the Pilot and Review cover places they don’t have the staff to cover and helps show the community that they don’t just care about the big stuff.

Share the love

Most newsrooms are now on Slack, but do you have a place to share good stuff your community is saying about you? At Berkeleyside, a for-profit California newsroom, there’s a Slack channel called “Community Praise.”

“When someone phones us or emails us… and there’s praise of Berkeleyside, we log it there,” said co-founder Lance Knobel. “It’s a nice regular injection of good feelings for everybody that works at Berkeleyside, but it’s also a fantastic way to capture those thoughts for membership campaigns or whatever and we have a great log of it there.”

I am for sure stealing that last one for Poynter. (We also have a new channel called #praisebe where we can give each other shout-outs. Other than #is-there-food, it’s a personal favorite.)

  • Speaking of LION, here’s why its executive director decided to head back into newspapers.

  • The Membership Puzzle Project just launched a new fund to help newsrooms develop membership models.

  • Here are some great social media lessons the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel got from the Table Stakes initiative.

  • And if you’re a journalist in Chicago, come spend a day with Poynter (and me) at this workshop on uncovering untold stories.

See you next week!

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