Publish less, listen more

“It’s time to value listening as an act of journalism, above getting the story. Or else you might find that fewer people are willing to listen to you.”

If there’s one thing that feels more certain at the end of 2020 than its beginning, it’s our readers’ need for a space that acknowledges experiences and emotions. A space that offers a window into moments you recognize from your own life, or into the experiences of those who see things from a different perspective — and where even the most mundane aspects of life feel important if they’re important to you. A space where you can process things that might be simmering in the back of your mind but that you haven’t found the time to check in with lately. (Because you’re too busy surviving a pandemic.)

Journalism can offer this space. Journalists, especially those in membership-based organizations or media with strong reader-revenue plans, are now often facilitating conversations or events as part of the editorial process. Those conversations might not feel the same as when they could happen offline, but their value is only increasing.

At DoR, we’ve felt the growing importance of building our listening skills in many ways: in interviews that last longer, because the questions are much needed at this time; in responses to stories where we crowdsource contributions from our members; in online events that can offer validation that your own questions are important and offer some tools to find answers; and in what some of our members are telling us directly about what we could do better.

If you’re a journalist at a small organization relying on reader contributions, it’s easy to feel like you’re not doing enough for those who have given you their support. And the instinct is to do more — which in the journalism world often translates to publishing more.

But maybe it’s not more articles that would really feel like value to your readers at this time.

For media organizations that are built on membership or for those who hope to increase their share of reader-revenue in a meaningful way, 2021 could be a make-it-or-break-it year for community relationships.

It’s time to consolidate the listening routines you’ve already developed and build ways to start holding this space for reflection. It’s time to value listening as an act of journalism, above getting the story. Or else you might find that fewer people are willing to listen to you.

Catalina Albeanu is digital editor at Romania’s DoR (Decât o Revistă).

If there’s one thing that feels more certain at the end of 2020 than its beginning, it’s our readers’ need for a space that acknowledges experiences and emotions. A space that offers a window into moments you recognize from your own life, or into the experiences of those who see things from a different perspective — and where even the most mundane aspects of life feel important if they’re important to you. A space where you can process things that might be simmering in the back of your mind but that you haven’t found the time to check in with lately. (Because you’re too busy surviving a pandemic.)

Journalism can offer this space. Journalists, especially those in membership-based organizations or media with strong reader-revenue plans, are now often facilitating conversations or events as part of the editorial process. Those conversations might not feel the same as when they could happen offline, but their value is only increasing.

At DoR, we’ve felt the growing importance of building our listening skills in many ways: in interviews that last longer, because the questions are much needed at this time; in responses to stories where we crowdsource contributions from our members; in online events that can offer validation that your own questions are important and offer some tools to find answers; and in what some of our members are telling us directly about what we could do better.

If you’re a journalist at a small organization relying on reader contributions, it’s easy to feel like you’re not doing enough for those who have given you their support. And the instinct is to do more — which in the journalism world often translates to publishing more.

But maybe it’s not more articles that would really feel like value to your readers at this time.

For media organizations that are built on membership or for those who hope to increase their share of reader-revenue in a meaningful way, 2021 could be a make-it-or-break-it year for community relationships.

It’s time to consolidate the listening routines you’ve already developed and build ways to start holding this space for reflection. It’s time to value listening as an act of journalism, above getting the story. Or else you might find that fewer people are willing to listen to you.

Catalina Albeanu is digital editor at Romania’s DoR (Decât o Revistă).

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