A Northwestern University joint initiative of Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications and the Robert R. McCormick School of Engineering & Applied Science. Northwestern University joint initiative of Medill & McCormick School of Engineering.

Letting readers get a word in: An experiment in reader engagement

Forward-thinking journalists value “reader engagement,” and that generally means that readers are actively contributing to the story instead of just consuming it. What happens when we take reader engagement to an extreme? What kinds of reader contributions are useful and which are just gimmicks?

The Tow Center’s 2015 Guide to Crowdsourcing says that “news consumers clearly have stories to share, but they don’t necessarily want to write the news.” If not the actual copy, then what is it that readers want to contribute?

The remainder of this article gives examples of small, fun ways for readers to contribute to digital news. I hope these will give you some ideas for engaging your readers. Remember that this is just a prototype that I hacked together in Google Forms.

Your contributions to this article are important but they will be anonymous.

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Northwestern University Knight Lab advances news media innovation through exploration, experimentation and education. The Lab's free publishing tools help to make information more meaningful and promote quality storytelling on the Internet.