Policy Corner: What we do starts with you

  • Jim Baumann

    Jim Baumann

 
 
Posted8/9/2021 1:00 AM

A newspaper that operates in a vacuum isn't much of a newspaper.

It's important that we know what's on your minds, know what questions you're asking, know what keeps you up at night.

 

In recent weeks, that's been whether kids are going to be required to wear masks when they head back to school.

How do we know that? Because our social media channels tell us so.

Every morning we start our daily planning meeting with a look at how the stories we wrote the day before -- and that morning -- resonate with readers via social media.

We judge that partly by the number of clicks a story gets, naturally, but more importantly by how many people engage with a story, whether that be by commenting on it or sharing it with social media friends and followers.

I figure we're serving a purpose if you are talking about what we're doing.

We look for questions you have that we can answer. We look for rumors and try to determine whether there is anything to them.

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We try to advance the conversation. We try to solve people's problems.

The social media age has wrought plenty of bad, but it has its advantages. Yes, even for newspapers.

It gives us glimpses into how readers use -- or don't use -- what we do. It allows us make adjustments in our coverage that in the past were the result only of our intuition.

This may sound a bit Orwellian, but by looking in on the ongoing social media conversation and becoming a part of it, we often find interesting story ideas, hear about things we might not otherwise find and talk to our readers we simply couldn't do before. It is one tool we use to help guide coverage so that we can be a greater resource for you and so we will become more essential in your lives.

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