Can Civic Journalism Save Newspaper Subscriptions?

In an era where social media has everyone in touch with everyone else, it is hard to believe that most people are still not getting their opinions heard. The 24-hour news networks run story after story about what is wrong with the world, but they offer very little insight into how to solve the problems.

These days, newspaper publishers are constantly looking for a way to increase readership and generate more revenue. The solution may be in the form of something that became very popular in the 1990s called civic journalism. It is an interactive form of journalism that make the public feel like they are part of the story and part of the solution as well.

What Is Civic Journalism?

Civic journalism takes an issue and then gets input from the public on the ramifications of the issue, and suggestions on how to solve the issue. Data is taken and turned into charts and graphs that people can look at to pinpoint the issue and see what most people feel the solution would be. It is an interactive form of journalism that gets the public involved in identifying and solving what people consider to be the real problems of the day.

SEE ALSO: Google News Lab Launches a Trio of Crowd-Sourced Journalism Projects

What Form Does Civic Journalism Take?

Civic journalism can be an online survey done by a newspaper where an issue is raised and respondents offer solutions. One of the more popular forms of civic journalism is the town hall meeting where citizens get to voice their opinions directly to politicians, community leaders, or corporate executives.

Has It Worked In The Past?

According to NiemanLab.org, one of the more successful civic journalism efforts was called “Take Back Our Neighborhoods” and it was executed by The Charlotte Observer and WSOC-TV in Charlotte, North Carolina. Citizens were asked about crime in their neighborhoods and they offer a variety of suggestions. When the newspaper and television station released the results, the community stepped up with over 700 people volunteering to help out and several local law firms suing to have known drug houses shut down.

How Can Civic Journalism Help My Newspaper?

When people feel as though their opinion matters, then they take a more emotional interest in what is going on. Civic journalism helps newspapers to be successful because the readership feels like they were part of a real solution to important issues. You can use your online and print publications to engage in civic journalism endeavors and dramatically increase your readership. You can also increase the exposure your publication gets from people interested in your endeavors around the world.

If you can increase your readership, then you increase revenue. If you can get your newspaper’s content to go viral, then you can establish a national or international presence. Civic journalism has been proven to get people involved in their community and it has made newspapers the focal point of important movements. Your newspaper can become an invaluable part of the community if it decides to start engaging in civic journalism projects.

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