July 18, 2018

Every time we write about high school and college journalists, that story leads our traffic and engagement and comes up in our analytics report again and again long after it ran.

Why? I think, in part, because those stories are relevant for both new and working journalists, either to keep up, catch up or see how much things have or haven’t changed.

It’s an audience sweet spot.

So far, reaching that new audience is mostly unintentional. But in the nearly five years I’ve been at Poynter, we have worked to create space for new communities, including fact-checking and local journalists.

How do you reach new audiences? For the next few weeks, this is our next discussion. And it’s something I’m realizing we’ve touched on several times before.

  • In a past edition of this newsletter, KPCC’s Ashley Alvarado talked about reaching new audiences with “Unheard LA,” a live event series. “The results have been palpable: Three full houses, with more than 80 percent of the RSVPs coming from people interested in attending a KPCC In Person event for the first time,” Alvarado and Jon Cohn wrote for Nieman Lab. “The audiences were younger and more diverse, and the Facebook videos of the shows have reached more than 76,000 people (a record for our team’s Facebook page).”

  • In New Jersey, “Voting Block” brought more than 25 local newsrooms together to cover an election. The project included potluck dinners.  

  • Another live event series is Gannett’s The Storytellers Project. Last year Poynter reported that the project is now in 21 cities and “On average, half of the people in the audience aren't print subscribers, and half fit the demographics that those newsrooms want to grow — people under 50.”

  • The Durango Hearld, part of Poynter’s Table Stakes program, created a twice-monthly event series called “Durango Diaries.” “Sometimes it was our typical print readers,” Claudia Laws and Shane Benjamin wrote for Better News, “but at two events, the majority of the audience members didn’t read the newspaper. Those were rather small audiences, but were among our biggest wins as we connected one-on-one with people unfamiliar with our brand.”

  • This spring, the Philadelphia Inquirer added six new fellowship positions aimed at reaching diverse audiences.

What has helped your newsroom reach new audiences? Different beats? A newsletter? Events? Share your examples and I’ll gather them in a round-up for an upcoming edition.

In the meantime, have you signed up to go to ONA’s Local Summit? Check out how Alexander City Outlook is increasing revenue. Listen to this podcast on a new publication on local news. And it’s time to sign up and represent local at the Poynter-NABJ Leadership Academy for Diversity in Digital Media. See you next week!

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Kristen Hare teaches local journalists the critical skills they need to serve and cover their communities as Poynter's local news faculty member. Before joining faculty…
Kristen Hare

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