Andrea Wenzel said that solutions and engagement [with community members] are “like the peanut butter and jelly of journalism.” Wenzel told this to our class when she came to speak on Tuesday, January 30th. She’s an Assistant Professor of Journalism at Temple with a background in public radio. She’s worked in different countries and different cities in the States, including Chicago.

Wenzel’s talk coincided with our crowdsourcing assignment, as she spoke to us about ways to get community members engaged in what we’re doing and our content. During her years in public radio, she gained knowledge on what methods of crowdsourcing work, and don’t work, which she was gracious enough to share with our class. She spoke about the Hearken story cycle, which is: “ask questions, vote on favorites, shape story accompany reporters,” according to her presentation. Hearken advocates for “public-powered” journalism and helps newsrooms learn how to listen to their community’s needs more efficiently.

We also learned that for people to engage in your content, you have to be engaged too. So, one small things that really shows people you’re engaged and want their input, is something as simple as getting a table. Sitting behind a table and having some sort of handout and being there to talk to your community members face-to-face in a way that shows you care about what they have to say makes a difference. It was also said that partnering with organizations to help gather information is helpful as well. Something as simple as putting question boxes up at these organizations will allow people to submit their comments and concerns in on their own time and in their own way. These ways to get community members involved in your content are so simple, yet most newsrooms don’t implement them into their reporting styles. But these methods, and solutions journalism as a whole, can help bestow the public’s trust in the media again, Wenzel said. 

In addition to what works, she told us what she’s learned doesn’t work when it comes to crowdsourcing. I think we were all relieved to hear her say that man-on-the-street type interviews really aren’t the most efficient way to go about crowdsourcing.