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Crowdsourcing creates robust audience dialogue

November 25, 2015 | By Rande Price, Research Director—DCN @Randeloo

Crowdsourcing is an important way to personalize and engage your audience. The use of crowdsourcing can result in the creation of unique user-generated content or collaborative and social journalism. To provide a deeper understanding of crowdsourcing practices, the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University conducted detailed interviews, survey-work and case studies to produce its Guide to Crowdsourcing.

The two most recognized practices of crowdsourcing are news organizations asking for audience input and social media users offering non-solicited feedback. The Tow Center identified crowdsourcing in journalism as the act of inviting a group of people to participate in a reporting assignment. In other words, it’s an open call for your audience to personally contribute.

Thinking of the Center’s definition, crowdsourcing usually comes in two forms, as an unstructured open-invitation to provide feedback by way of a vote, email or call or as a targeted request to a particular segment of people. Crowdsourcing is especially popular among digital startups who are developing a unique style of journalism with a new audience.

Many news organizations include crowdsourcing in the entire process from story assigning, to pre-data collection, research and analytics to reporting and post-story discussions. Some important practices to incorporate when crowdsourcing:

  • Clearly define your journalistic goals.
  • Communicate what will be done with participant’s contribution.
  • Be specific about the type of response you want.
  • Announce your call-out more than once.
  • Use the proper terms like “share” versus “submit.”
  • Leave a short time gap between call-out and publication.
  • Communicate with community often.
  • Respond to and reward your contributors.
  • Make it easy for people to participate.

Effective crowdsourcing provides robust content and a valuable path for connecting and giving back to your audience.

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