Throughout the month of July, Digital Journal hosted online story meetings that were open to the public. The live-chat discussions invited reporters, citizen journalists, bloggers and average news consumers into the editorial process to help shape the coverage being produced by Digital Journal. Participants were invited to provide input on the type of content of interest to them.
Participants interacted with Digital Journal editors and management to express their thoughts on stories and topics they believe were under-reported; emerging trends and topics that needed more media attention; and geographies and local stories that were being missed by the press. Readers chatted live and responded to polls and questions, and that feedback was used to assign stories to thousands of contributors via Digital Journal’s content assignment technology.
“We learned a lot about what people look for in a news site, and we were surprised by some of the feedback we got,” said Digital Journal CEO, Chris Hogg. “One of the most interesting things we noticed was that local content matters to people, but those people are also likely to read local content from other regions if the right context is provided. Several people told us they will read foreign news coverage if it’s presented to them through a single content source, and they really enjoy reading about news from other cities.”
Several key themes surfaced in Digital Journal's Global Editorial Meetings, including:
• Local content is widely sought-out by news consumers, but the majority are also interested in local stories from other geographies when context is provided.
• Readers are increasingly turning to social media sites to discover new information, following content feeds from media organizations on Twitter and Facebook because they are often curated and timelier than a website.
Readers view their social media friends as content sources, often citing their social circles as sources of information.
• When a major or developing story breaks, a large percentage of savvy digital news consumers turn to their social media circles to validate information and to get updates rather than turning to a specific news site. Readers will often follow a story as it breaks on Twitter and Facebook, and then look for validated information from news sources after.
• Several readers want to see more investigative journalism and original work in the mainstream press and less content from wire services.
• A large percentage of readers enjoy reading opinion pieces, even if it’s an opinion contrary to their own sentiments.
• Most readers want to see more editorial coverage from regions such as South America, Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Several readers said they hope to learn more about these regions beyond the typical headlines that come from these areas.
• When it comes to content verticals, several readers said they want more business, science, and environmental news, regardless of the geography from which a story originates.
• Readers want to see more photography with news stories, citing preferences for photo essays and on-the-ground reports filled with high-quality visuals.
In addition to these overall themes, participants also noted that while a lot of the news they read informs them about what’s happening around them, deeper context is often missing in news articles in the mainstream press. That is especially true when it comes to discussions on the debt crisis and global financial markets, readers said. In addition, readers said geographies such as Africa and the Middle East are often in the news because of conflict occurring in those regions, but they believe media outlets need to do a better job of explaining the various sides of a story, such as who is involved, historical context and why the story should matter to them.
“Digital Journal is well-known for giving a voice to anyone who wants to take part in the news-gathering process,” said Hogg. “Learning from our readers, as well as people who are just discovering us as a news source, helps us improve our news offering and I would encourage every newsroom to start experimenting by bringing their readers behind the curtain to involve them in the everyday process of reporting news.”
Full transcripts from Digital Journal’s Global Editorial Meetings are available on request. Digital Journal also received outstanding feedback from participants for its global story meetings. Details can be found here.