Nieman Foundation at Harvard
Newsonomics: Here are 10 storylines we’ll be talking about into 2017
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Feb. 22, 2016, 1:18 p.m.
Audience & Social

It’s easier than ever to share what we think about the election. We all know people who blast their Facebook profiles with dozens of articles from outlets all over the political spectrum. Still, there are people who have strong thoughts on what’s going on, but don’t necessarily feel comfortable sharing publicly exactly how they think.

As a result, NBC News today launched Election Confessions, a tumblr in the style of PostSecret or Whisper that lets people anonymously share how they feel about the 2016 race.

There are three ways to submit to Election Confessions: You can call NBC’s dedicated phone number and leave a voicemail, send the same number a text message, or write out your confession, take a photo of it, and text NBC the photo.

NBC is calling Election Confessions an experiment, and it’s certainly a neat way for voters to share what they’re really thinking about the election without having to worry about the ramifications of publicly sharing what they think. Though data and statistics are often needed to report on stories such as the election, using audience callouts like NBC’s can be a way for news outlets to offer color and some human perspective about sensitive topics.

A number of outlets in recent months have launched similar projects asking their audience to contribute with their own voices. Around Valentine’s Day, CNN debuted a project called Love Story that asked for people to leave voicemails with stories about how they fell in love. CNN then published some of the stories on its website, and has also been sharing them on social media.

The Washington Post last year also created When I Was Pulled Over, a Tumblr-based project that asked readers to submit stories about times they had been stopped by police officers.

Similarly, WNYC has started using a new app, Anchor, to start conversations with its audience about topics such as political correctness and the ongoing election.

BuzzFeed has partnered with Whisper since 2014 to turn the site’s anonymous posts into lists on BuzzFeed. (It took a pause on that partnership amid privacy concerns later that year, but they’re back at it.)

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