This module was written by David Poulson, editor of Great Lakes Echo. He is also the associate director of Michigan State University’s Knight Center for Environmental Journalism. Great Lakes Echo is the successor to Great Lakes Wiki, launched in 2006 with a New Voices grant from J-Lab.
Tickling Reader Engagement
“Try poking your community with a sharp stick and challenging it to interact.”
Engaging readers is why your online news community exists. You can’t use the wisdom of the crowds if the crowd isn’t talking. Without fast and substantive engagement, you might as well publish a newspaper.
So when you build it and they don’t come, what do you do, short of waiting?
Try poking your community with a sharp stick and challenging it to interact In the following sections, you’ll see how at GreatLakesEcho.org, a site about environmental issues in the Great Lakes region, we used Asian carp (hardly sharp sticks), maps, quizzes, Top 10 lists and more to help engage our audience.
Don’t get discouraged when your best ideas flop. You’ll be surprised by something else that works. More surprising—and puzzling—is when a failed idea works the second time. If you need a start, steal and modify what we’ve tried at Great Lakes Echo. What follows are a few ideas.