Futures Lab Update #154: Hearken’s New Tool Gives Audiences Access to the Reporting Process

    by Reuben Stern
    June 17, 2016
    A screenshot from this week's Futures Lab Update video.

    This story first appeared on RJI’s Futures LabReporting by Haley Reed, Reuben Stern and Blair Ussary.

    A New Tool From Hearken

    A startup called Hearken is developing a tool called the interactive reporter’s notebook, which aims to give audiences access to information that is often lost during the reporting process. Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Jennifer Brandel says enabling reporters to share what they find out along the way might help foster better audience engagement.

    Hearken is a startup that grew out of a local engagement experiment called Curious City at WBEZ in Chicago. Its mission is to help newsrooms get the public involved in determining which stories to cover.


    For more information:

    • According to co-founder Jennifer Brandel, involving the audience in the early stages of pitching and reporting — well before a story is published — is key. Community members often have the best insight into what kinds of stories need to be told, she says. “I challenge the idea that reporters are the only ones who would have deep enough knowledge to ask really good, incisive questions that the public wouldn’t know,” Brandel told MediaShift.
    • Hearken currently offers two tools that news organizations can embed on their websites to collect audience questions and input. Having these modules in centralized locations means “valuable audience input doesn’t get buried in reporter’s inboxes or lost in cluttered social media feeds or the comments section of some article.”
      • The curiosity module allows readers to ask newsrooms specific questions.
      • The voting module enables audiences to vote from a selection of questions suggested by other audience members. The answers to the polls help journalists determine which stories to cover.
    • For more information about Hearken, check out our previous report.

    Reuben Stern is the deputy director of the Futures Lab at the Reynolds Journalism Institute and host and co-producer of the weekly Futures Lab video update.


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    The Reynolds Journalism Institute’s Futures Lab video update features a roundup of fresh ideas, techniques and developments to help spark innovation and change in newsrooms across all media platforms. Visit the RJI website for the full archive of Futures Lab videos, or download the receive email notification of each new episode.

    Tagged: curious city futures lab Hearken jennifer brandel rji

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