What does it take to engage people?
People find the most meaning in community coverage when they are fully engaged.
The Harwood Institute has discovered nine factors that are essential to engage people on public issues. Think of these factors as a set of benchmarks to keep in mind as you work on a story.
On the surface the factors may appear to be rather simple, but as you watch for them in interviews and when reporting stories, their richness and complexity emerge – as do the implications for putting together meaningful stories.
You can use these factors as a way to:
Understand how people think. You can better understand and capture the complex ways people think about their communities, how people come to form their views about concerns, and the words and phrases they use to describe their views.
Engage people in interviews. When you carefully consider these factors, you can figure out better types of questions to ask to uncover how people are thinking and why.
Strengthen your stories. You will discover new possibilities to frame stories. For instance, you will discover that people are looking for stories to make sense of their ambivalence on issues. People resist stories framed in extreme points of view.
You will enhance your ability to produce stories that have greater context, nuance and perspective when you make a deliberate effort to account for the nine factors that engage people.