Sometimes it's good to see how the sausage is made. Or how the paper is made in our case.
Why not consider doing that on election night. Show readers how it all comes together.
Newsrooms are always interesting places to be. Election night has to be one of the most interesting for sure.
How interesting would it be for readers to get the chance to observe the newsroom in action on election night? The benefit to them: Seeing your planning process, how you make decisions about what's going to go on what page, how you manage digital and print needs all at the same time and the rush — and frustration at times — of getting results.
Put a callout in your paper over the weekend and on social media, inviting readers who are interested in partaking in the madness that is election night to contact you. Limit the audience to the first dozen that contact you. Have some form of communication with them to make sure you don't have anyone from the loony bin and then invite them to come in. And of course, give them some election night food.
It would be fun to feature some of your readers in print and online and share what they learned about election night coverage.
We need an open door with our readers. Inviting them in on one of our most exciting nights has the opportunity to be a rewarding experience for the public and our newspapers.
Readers are genuinely interested in how we operate: How we cover things, how we make decisions and how we use technology. To news folks, it's just what we do, but to the public, it's a mystery. While I understand election night is a busy one for newsrooms, it also would be a fascinating opportunity for readers to get a glimpse into our world.
I did a program, somewhat similar, when I was an editor of a group of papers in Western New York about six years ago. We invited readers to come into our newsroom once a week, and sit through budget meetings and lend suggestions to the news decision process. We would ask them if they thought stories had 1A potential, what would get their attention in our sky boxes, etc. It was great feedback and of course we made the final decisions, but readers loved the opportunity and left feeling informed and connected to their hometown paper.
I bet any paper that would do something similar on election night would create that same kind of connection with their readers.
David Arkin is Vice President of Content & Audience for GateHouse Media. Contact him at email@example.com
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