An Interview with the Engaging News Project:
Increasing Civility and Engagement with Online News Innovations
An Interview with Talia Stroud
News consumption today is profoundly different from the world of only a few years ago.
We can now choose from thousands of outlets and social media sites, giving us the chance to select only those that cater to and deepen our political beliefs, rather than seeking out information and opinions that challenge our way of thinking. While online platforms create new opportunities for civic participation, comment sections have often resulted in uncivil and angry debate, while other tools – like polls – tend to be superficial and misleading for readers.
With the proliferation of options that allow us to tune into one perspective or tune out of civic news, how can we ensure that our transition to digital platforms contributes to more informed, engaged, and civil participation, rather than further polarizing our democracy and narrowing our political discourse?
I couldn’t sleep the night I returned home [from the Engaging News Project workshop] as my brain was racing with ideas – trying to recall everything I heard and learned from the other journalists and from the intellectual stimulation you created for all of us. Mostly though, I came back with an even greater sense of hope for journalism.
Keira Nothaft, The Arizona Republic
The Engaging News Project is responding to this question by running real-life experiments to surface innovations that news sites can easily implement to better inform their readers while improving the sites’ financial returns. The project’s research team tests web-based strategies for informing audiences, promoting authentic discourse, and helping citizens to better understand diverse views. At the same time, they analyze business outcomes, such as clicks and time on page, to ensure that publishers will have a strong motivation to incorporate new tools and practices that are recommended. The Engaging News Project’s systematic testing provides valuable information about what works and what doesn’t for newsrooms that are often too strapped for time and resources to conduct their own experimentation.
The Engaging News Project’s director, Dr. Talia Stroud, talks about her latest work and what the team is learning in the interview below.
- The Engaging News Project