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Hearken reverses the role of public and journalists

Hearken invites the public into a new process: The audience fills the pitch-pipeline with story ideas in the form of questions, votes on their favorites and provides feedback when choosing what stories to assign.

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Hearken.com: Public engagement and journalism

Hearken.com really, REALLY embraces viewer feedback when it comes to producing the news. What a concept! Or is it?

Back in the day when I was reporting, anchoring and producing the news on a daily basis, the heat was always on! The nightly news aired at 6pm and there was never enough time, it seemed, to get everything done. But one thing was for sure, we tried to report on things that happened every day: Hopefully giving our viewers a close look at the community in which they lived.

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That was an assumption on the part of the news department because who had time to pull the local community into the news loop and ask for their feedback? So imagine my surprise when I discovered a new [still in Beta] news platform that practically puts the audience in the driver’s seat for generating news content?

Content is king

This is certainly a novel approach to producing the news. According to Hearken.com, the typical approach to generating story ideas is something akin to this:

hearken cycle of journalism

In the so called standard approach to generating content the feedback stage comes long after the publish/airdate stage. But Hearken maneuvers that stage to coincide with going live. Hearken invites the public into the new process: The audience fills the pitch-pipeline with story ideas in the form of questions, votes on their favorites and provides feedback when choosing what stories to assign.

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Conversely, when members of the audience express interest in a question, they’ll receive updates when that story is being reported on and is completed.

At the expense of playing Devil’s Advocate, I have to wonder what newsroom has the time to allocate to this process when there’s a deadline looming? I suppose in terms of generic/evergreen content this is tool that can broaden the scope of coverage of a specific topic. But I’m not entirely convinced that Hearken is effective as anything more than a novelty.

Vote for what’s right

Hearken uses what they refer to as an embedded voting module, which gives the audience the ability to vote on their favorite story ideas, which theoretically gives the newsroom and reporters valuable insights into validated audience desires, as well as the chance to challenge assumptions about what’s a worthwhile story.

hearken story type

Plus and minus

I suppose one thing that Heaken provides is a source of tangible soundbites via the public interaction. This is always a good thing, but if the source is not a subject matter expert and just a generic face and opinion I again have to wonder who much mileage such a tool actually provides. By its own accord, Hearken hopes to create deeper relationships with its audience and by doing so more interest in the content they’ve helped the news team create.

In an age where social media creates feedback that is instantaneous, is there room for a news platform such as Hearken?

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You’ll have to tune in tonight for the full story.

#Hearken

Written By

Nearly three decades living and working all over the world as a radio and television broadcast journalist in the United States Air Force, Staff Writer, Gary Picariello is now retired from the military and is focused on his writing career.

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