Opening a direct line to your readers: The Media Roundup

What's New in Publishing 11 Aug 2021 07:00

Block Club Chicago’s coronavirus hotline connects readers with questions to reporters with answers

People have questions. Journalists have answers. So how can the two be connected up? The information might be available on local news websites, but people often don’t go digging around for it.

Block Club Chicago, a nonprofit news site, have been experimenting with ways to connect readers with the information they need, when they need it. They launched a free, bilingual coronavirus hotline where readers could call, email or text to have their questions answered by a core team of staffers, who would coordinate with reporters to get the right information.

When it comes to any kind of open communication with readers, resourcing can be a massive issue. But Block Club Chicago’s approach to helping local people find vital information is worth the effort (and the overwhelm), and there are some interesting lessons to learn about accessibility and relationship-building.

Best of all, these free services have led to a paid subscriber boost. “If you show up for your readers, your readers will show up to support you,” they conclude.

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