Lessons from #10YearsUP and Resources for Audience Engagement

Audience engagement is more than just a buzzword — it's an essential part of journalism. On Aug. 29, 2016, Poynter convened a group of audience engagement experts at The Hearst Tower in New York City to focus on this topic. The event, called the 10UP Summit: Ten years of User Participation, explored lessons from more than a decade of audience engagement and looked toward the future.

Speakers included Amanda Zamora, chief audience officer of The Texas Tribune, who delivered a powerful talk — Comments are changing. Our commitment to audiences shouldn’t. NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen closed the day by placing responsibility on journalists for respecting, listening and responding to readers.

Jennifer Brandel, founder and CEO of Hearken, and Monica Guzman, author of “The Best Ways to Build Audience and Relevance by Listening to and Engaging Your Audience,” spoke on a panel about fostering innovation and audience-first thinking in newsrooms. They shared the below resources following the discussion.

To see more takeaways from the summit, explore #10YearsUP on Twitter.

Looking for more ideas? Come to Room for Trust: Creating Space for Real Engagement, a one-day Poynter workshop in San Francisco on April 21, 2017.

Tips for making room for engagement


Start small


Embrace a culture of learning (failure = not learning)


Create space for a sandbox and protect that sandbox and the time needed to experiment


Make sure there’s buy in from whoever controls the time


Build a coalition of the willing, look for the spark (the YAYsayers)


Create some metrics for success


Be able to identify if engagement is really successful


Schedule time to reflect on how things are going on a regular basis


Be courageous: look at what’s not really working at your organization …and sunset it to make space for change

Inspiration: Newsrooms and projects built on engagement

The Local News Lab

WBEZ’s Curious City

West Seattle Blog

GeekWire 200

The Guardian’s The Counted

NJ News Commons

Smart Chicago + Modes of Civic Engagement in Civic Tech (book coming soon)

Prometheus Radio Project’s Radio Barnraisings

Red Hook Initiative’s Digital Stewards & Red Hook Wifi

VoterVOX (see also this profile)

The Listening Post

ASNE/JTM Project: The Engagement Hub

Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation

Jersey Shore Hurricane News (see also this profile)

Here's @CIRonline’s lead testing effort & earthquake safety comic books

Case Study: Why @CapRadioView builds a community coalition and signs an MOU with their audience before reporting

Radiolab shows citizen science & citizen tech can be models for community-powered journalism

Monica Guzman on her weekly Big Blog meetups, 2008-2010: Make the News a Conversation, Nieman Reports

Blog Posts, Reports and Resources on Engagement:

Build With Community, Not For It

API Study: The best ways to build audience and relevance by listening to and engaging your community - Monica Guzman

Hearken’s Medium Collection - Jennifer Brandel + Hearken staff

News as Collaborative Intelligence - Brookings Institute report by Tom Rosenstiel

Beyond Consumption: What do you hope news consumers will do? - Joy Mayer

Digital Publishers Can’t Agree on a Definition for Audience Engagement - Parse.ly

How to become a consistently engaging newsroom - Monica Guzman

What if Journalism Was Built for Inclusive Community Participation? - Josh Stearns

Building Journalism With Community, Not For It - Josh Stearns

Building Technology With, Not For Communities: An Engagement Guide - Laurenellen McCann

The Problem With Inclusion - Laurenellen McCann

The Myth of Everybody - Laurenellen McCann

Why more newsrooms should embrace crowd-powered journalism - Amanda Zamora

Community engagement across language and ethnic divides with Alhambra Source - Daniela Gerson


How to listen to your audience and learn from them - Monica Guzman

Five Kinds of Listening for Newsrooms and Communities - Josh Stearns

A Crash Course in Listening for Journalists - Josh Stearns

Questions Are the New Comments - Jennifer Brandel

Active Listening 101 - Laurenellen McCann

A New Vision for Local News That Starts With Listening - Andrew Haeg

Want to Attract More Readers? Try Listening to Them - real talk from NYTimes public editor Liz Spayd

Events and other IRL Engagement

17 Lessons for Local News Events - Josh Stearns

Two Tools to Help you Plan your Next News Event - Josh Stearns

Eight Categories of Journalism Events - Josh Stearns

The Rise of Hands-On Journalism - Josh Stearns

Local News as Participatory Journalism Labs - Josh Stearns

So You Want to Run a Hackathon? Think Again. - Laurenellen McCann

50 Years After Watts: How Community Engagement Can Help Reshape Media Coverage of Race, Protests and Power - Daniela Gerson

Food for Thought

Why Calls for a National Conversation are Futile - thoughtful piece on the limits of “conversation” by Wesley Morris in New York Times Magazine

Reclaiming Conversation, by Sherry Turkle - Smartest book you’ll read on the work that conversation does, and how it transfers (and doesn’t transfer) to digital channels

The Year We Obsessed Over Identity - deeply provocative thoughts on how the way we think about identity is affecting the way we expect to be heard and understood, by Wesley Morris

Do Mainstream New Outlets Have a Moral Obligation to Citizen Journalists? - Glenda Cooper

Other Great Guides and Presentations

Joy Mayer’s RJI Engagement Research - Joy Mayer

Moving Forward Engagement - Kelsey Proud

The News is Served - Kelsey Proud

How to engage your audience in 5 key steps - Monica Guzman

Getting the most out of comments: A guide for journalists - Monica Guzman, Nieman Reports

How to Engage Readers in Acts of Journalism - Amanda Zamora

Engaged Journalism - book by Jake Batsell

Geeks Bearing Gifts: Imagining New Futures for News - book by Jeff Jarvis

Fix Local News or Die – A conversation in blog posts from John Robinson, Steve Buttry, Jen Conic and John Robinson again.

A Manifesto for Curiosity and Engagement - Jennifer Brandel

Publishing process and opportunities for community collaboration - Meg Pickard

Three good posts by Joy Mayer: Who’s your audience?, Metrics for mission-driven work, The expanded life cycle for a story

Community, Technology, and Partnerships - Laurenellen McCann

People First, Meeting Your Community Where They Are - Laurenellen McCann

Getting in on the Act - Irving Foundation (just replace words related to the arts with journalism; I promise you: it works)

Measuring Impact

Solving journalism’s hidden problem: Terrible analytics - a Brookings Institute report from Tom Rosenstiel of API

Nonprofit Journalism: Issues Around Impact – a white paper from ProPublica’s founding editor and president, Richard Tofel.

What We Talk About When We Talk About Impact: One News Organization’s Approach to Practicing Journalism with a Purpose By Elizabeth Green, Philissa Cramer, and Anika Anand of Chalkbeat

The art, science and mystery of nonprofit news assessment – By Charles Lewis and Hilary Niles of the Investigative Reporting Workshop

How can journalists measure the impact of their work? Notes toward a model of measurement - by Lindsay Green-Barber at The Center for Investigative Reporting

What You Think You Know About the Web Is Wrong – by the CEO of web analytics firm Chartbeat, Tony Haile

Good Metrics, Bad Metrics – by Jeff Jarvis

Metrics for civic impacts of journalism – by Ethan Zuckerman, who writes “What we measure, we become.”

Metrics, metrics everywhere: How do we measure the impact of journalism? – by Jonathan Stray

Two posts by Jessica Clark and Tracy Van Slyke based on a series of “Impact Summits:” Part 1 and Part 2

Collective Impact Deconstructed - Jo Ellen Green Kaiser, The Media Consortium

Tools and Platforms Built Specifically to Support Engagement in Journalism



The Coral Project (forthcoming)

Thanks to Jennifer Brandel and Monica Guzman for compiling these resources. Follow them on Twitter at @JenniferBrandel and @moniguzman.