Push journalism vs. pull journalism

Let’s experiment with making news products so relevant that people pull them into their lives

Photo by Ahmed zayan on Unsplash
  • The reporter checks with a couple of sources and their editor
  • The reporter invests a lot of time and energy into investigating and writing the story
  • The story is published
  • Then everyone in the organization PUSHES LIKE HELL to get the story in front of as many people as possible in the hope that it will reach the people who need that information the most
  • Interview those people — perhaps a dozen of them — and listen for signals that your hunch is correct.
  • Also listen for signals that your hunch is incorrect, and that perhaps there’s another problem, or unanswered question, that’s more pressing.
  • Formulate a hypothesis based on these conversations about what might address the problem, or answer the question: is it a written story, or is it something else? How might these people use the information? Where and when would they use it?
  • Go back to those dozen people, if possible, and present a stand-in for the finished version of the idea: a story pitch, a survey, a napkin sketch, a low-fidelity prototype, or what-have-you. Ask them for feedback. Ask them for introductions to another dozen people that you might be able to talk with.
  • Repeat this process as quickly as possible until you believe you’ve got a well-tested idea for a journalism undertaking that solves a problem, or answers a question — one that is a pressing information need in people lives.
  • Now go and do the reporting, the building, the producing.
  • When it’s done, publish it, and then present it to all of the people that you’ve spoken with and ask them, if they believe it’s useful, to let people know.
  • They search for an answer to a question on the Internet and find your organization’s reporting
  • They follow a reporter’s work so closely that this person found their own way to be notified the minute new work is published because it’s so relevant to them (even though your organization doesn’t provide a way to follow individual reporters yet).
  • They create Twitter lists of people that they trust to pull important facts into their view in a timely fashion
  • The list goes on…

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