10 Tips

Producers of WNYC’s daily public-affairs program, The Brian Lehrer Show, took what they learned from the project “Your Uncommon Economic Indicators,” and turned it into a list of princples below. This page is for producers who have website access and want to start crowdsourcing their own story right away. To learn more about working with your audience to report a story, explore this guide to read about how WNYC did it.

1. Fill Your Blank Page: Imagine your story in different forms. What would a representative photo look like? A map or graph? With new digital tools, we can better parse the story with images, sounds and interactivity. By using a variety of media, we make the story stronger and more interesting. Encouraging the audience to explore the story inspires them to add more information and widen its reach. These tips from the Knight Foundation on Picking the Right Media are a great help.

2. Set the tone Place your own reporting on the page to start. This models good behavior and gives would-be reporters an example to follow. Here are WNYC’s editorial tips.

3. Communicate! Like what you got from your reporters? Ask for more! Clarify! React right away! This is about you working with a crowd, so use your voice and give direction.

4. Be a Journalist: Contributors may be careless, or simply not aware of ways to confirm what they report. When in doubt, check it out. You may want to share The Principles of Journalism with your volunteers.

5. Be the Editor. An unmoderated forum invites unwelcome content, so cut or reject anything that drags down your story.

6. Reward your volunteers. Reinforce your journalistic standards by featuring your best submissions and offer shout-outs to exceptional contributors. Our case study shows how WNYC producers go from phone call to radio segment.

7. Encourage them with good news. If you use a story or know it has impact, be sure to tell the contributor directly, with some THANKS!

8. Mine your data to follow news, or for trends or topics. Sometimes frequency of a single word points you to a new story.

9. Go in New Directions. If you get bored, your crowd will too. Mix things up with new ideas and challenges. Our project was invigorated when we hosted a video contest.

10. Create a virtual destination for your story and for your reporters.

WNYC Host Brian Lehrer with contestant Sean McGee

(Ok, one more)
11. Meet-up. It’s optional, but face time has its own reward–for you and those who volunteer for you.
Here’s Brian Lehrer with Your Uncommon Economics Indicators video contributor, Sean McGee, after our video screening in the Green Space.

Update: This new article has more helpful tips for producers using social media tools. Social media:It’s How People Know You, How They Come to Listen,” by Tara Cavanaugh for Current.org.

  1. [...] on an incredibly useful field guide to crowdsourcing. For the harried beginner, they offer 10 simple tips for getting started. Set the tone, and be an editor, is some of their advice, which is to say: [...]

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