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Editor & Publisher - 2021-10-01

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Wise Advice

THE A SECTION

Many of our readers have questions, concerns or complaints about how we cover their community. But if we don’t ask for their feedback, we only hear from those who are upset enough to call or write. To facilitate more constructive conversations with our audience, The Day has hosted occasional live chats on Facebook. We’ll make an initial prompt to start the discussion and have several newsroom staff present over several hours to write responses to comments from readers. After our most recent chat, three of us had a live video conversation as well. Here are some things we’ve learned: • Readers appreciate having a conversation with a real person. To many of them, our reporters are just a byline in the paper. • Many people don’t know how a newsroom works, and in the absence of information, they often assume the worst. So use every opportunity you have to explain how and why decisions get made. • Don’t get defensive; it’s not productive. Do be transparent and proactive. • Just listening isn’t good enough. If you’re contemplating changes based on reader feedback, let them in on the process. If you decide not to change something, tell them why. • Many readers are concerned about bias and opinion, especially in coverage of national politics. If someone has a complaint, we ask for specific examples and then examine whether the language or story choices could be inflammatory or suggestive of an agenda.

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