Stephen Daw Participatory Journalism (J4700) Final Self-Evaluation

The Community Outreach Team of the Columbia Missourian is an interactive, vital part of our news organization. My coworkers and I make efforts to reach out to our reader base to get feedback on stories, get story ideas and to engage them in our content. As a member of the Outreach Team, I have been doing just that all semester. From writing social posts, to interacting with readers via email, to monitoring posts using Parse.ly, to going out into the public to talk to residents, I have been working hard at making sure I am helping the Columbia community get involved with and care about our content.

The content I have chosen to show in this post is a sampling of some of my best work from the Outreach Desk, showing the many different tasks I have tackled while working as a member of the outreach team. These posts and articles are reader-friendly and outreach-based pieces meant to keep our readers engaged and interested in the content the Missourian is offering. Some of what you will see below includes a livestream of a public meeting, a Facebook gallery of a visiting food truck and more.

This first post was the culmination of the work of myself and Kylie Boyce on the Public Life beat — a livestream of the Parks and Recreation Department’s monthly meeting. We coordinated with one of the department chairs and were able to pull off two successful livestreams of the meeting (one through Facebook, the other through Periscope).

I really learned that you’ve got to be as prepared as possible in situations like this. Our first livestream of the Judicial and Law Enforcement Task Force was a bit of a struggle for us because we hadn’t properly tested everything before streaming. It resulted in poor audio quality and a livestream closing too soon. So for this meeting, we spent more time and got more organized putting everything together, and it clearly paid off — nearly 1,000 people have watched the stream according to Facebook.

This is a photo gallery that I executed, based on a pitch from a reporter. A couple who ran and traveling van/food truck had stopped in Columbia for a few days, so I went out and spoke to some people who had some really interesting answers to the question “Where would you go if you had a van like this one.” To this day, it’s one of my favorite clips from the Outreach Desk, and it was a really successful social post that complemented a story in that day’s paper.

This first post was an idea I had with Matt Dulin, the director of community outreach, and Katrine Dam, one of my co-workers. In honor of International Women’s Day, we asked people in the downtown area to tell us about a woman who inspired them. In the past, I’d had trouble with getting people to talk for these kinds of posts, but for this one, people were very excited to get to talk about the important women in their lives.

I really learned that when you have a moment that people are responding to online, it is something that you absolutely need to use and address. Our post reached over 2,000 people on Facebook, along with getting 18 interactions and a few comments. People were interested in the idea. This was an important thing to do simply because it was something that people were interested in; this kind of content allows people to springboard from our Facebook to our actual news content, and this piece, I think, is a great example of that.

This is one of a number of Community Conversations posts I’ve set up for our Twitter website. This is one of my favorite things we do at the Missourian Outreach Desk. Highlighting comments on stories to our followers on social media not only gives them an incentive to go comment, but it also allows us to start meaningful conversations on our website about issues that matter. Putting this together was pretty simple; find the best quote from our comments section and make a graphic out of it.

This survey is just one piece of a larger project I have been working on with Kylie Boyce. “Open the Room” is aimed to get the community more engaged in what is happening in their local government, a topic that many are not educated on. This particular survey was concocted by me and Kylie to see how we can better relay information to readers. The information that we received led to a few story ideas on the Public Life beat, along with allowing Kylie and I to better strategize how we want to approach the rest of our project.

This is incredibly important for the Missourian. We’ve learned this semester that if you really want to engage readers, then you need to know what they want and how they want it. That was the goal and the result of this survey; readers told us what they wanted to read about, and how they wanted to read it. I now know that coming up with stories is not entirely up to the journalists. An engaged readership is a helpful readership.

This was another one of my proudest accomplishments at the Columbia Missourian. I came up with this idea to have a secret giveaway during the True/False Film Festival, then planned it, helped staff it, wrote most of the content for it and executed it. It was a success — we found a fun way to get readers to interact with our Facebook page, and to interact with us as an organization. Almost 800 people viewed our live-stream, and we got people to actually stop what they were doing and come interact with us.

This is an important aspect of what we do because sometimes, you have to have fun with your readers. If all we do is spew information at our readership, they’re going to stop caring. When you give them an incentive and a reason to care about our social media presence, they will reward you by checking out our content. I also learned how absolutely difficult it is to orchestrate something like this — we had about every major setback possible, but we still managed to turn out a quality live-stream.

This was a major story from last week that I helped a reporter update. While the story was getting major traffic on our website, I used TweetDeck, Facebook, etc. to find reactions from groups and public figures that the reporter could include in the story. I found tweets from the Coalition of Graduate Workers and the Associated Students of the University of Missouri that the reporter ended up including. In a later story, they included reactions from Gov. Eric Greitens that I found on his Facebook page.

This is a perfect example of why it’s important to have your ear to the pulse of Twitter. I knew that they were going to want reactions regarding the UM System audit, and I used the skills I’d been taught to gather the information necessary to show the public how major organizations were reacting to what was happening with the UM System.

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