Friday, October 5, 2012

Becoming more interactive

I mentioned at Wednesday's critique that The Orion was doing a good job of sending readers to for additional information with refers at the end of stories, in one of the front page ears (the space either side of the flag) and elsewhere. At the end of her student-money column, Samantha Youngman often invites readers to send suggestions, and the big feature piece on Chico bucket lists this week invited students to Tweet their own lists to #chicobucketlists.

Getting readers to immediately do something with your content is at the heart of interactivity, one of the key differences between traditional media and the Web.  The link in the last sentence (to an interesting research paper about how people rate a website higher when it's more interactive) is the simplest way to  get readers interact with content. But there are richer applications worth exploring.

Here's a TED talk about using crowdsourcing to gather news. The speaker is a reporter for The Guardian in London.

A post on Twitter, Facebook or could similarly ask people in the community for help reporting stories for The Orion paper and website.

Asking the audience to help with story ideas is another way to get them involved. The Submit Your News module on the News Section page of the website is one way to do this.

Using Twitter and Facebook to ask more specifically for help -- asking followers which are the best bands in Chico, for example, could yield enough suggestions to get a story on local bands started or create a list for a continuing series of features about local musicians -- is a great way to expand the pool of story ideas beyond beat reporting.

There are lots of others ways to get the audience involved, and the more readers are involved the more positively they feel about newspaper.

So, I'm going to practice what I'm preaching here: If you have some other ideas for interactivity that The Orion or could implement, comment on this post. I'll pass your suggestions along to Editor-in-Chief Kacey Gardner.

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