Boosting Relevance and Revenue Through Listening


The relationship between the newsrooms and the public should be potentially much more consistent, close and open. One the one hand, the newsrooms must learn to listen more and better to what the public is asking for while on the other hand, the public should be more engaged in a new virtual community. Both newsrooms and the public need to interact with each other and learn to pose relevant questions to one another. The Hearken project promotes this inter-dialogue, as well as the concrete and the active listening to the public.


Hearken offers a new and dynamic type of inter-community-centered connection between the public and the newsrooms, uniting them in a virtuous cycle of story-sharing and storytelling which makes both the public and the newsrooms more responsible and active in reporting relevant news. In Hearken project’s view, both audience and newsrooms need to be open and receptive to one another and this of course will create a clever coworking and reporting, based on stories that are important to both players.


The project is relevant from the point of view of public enhancement since the latter becomes even more important and should be more enhanced by the newsrooms; thus, this allows the creation of a community, an ecosystem of exchange of thoughts, sensations, opinions and above all, questions and stories that could also lead to important social changes as well as strengthen the important tie between public and information. The virtue of a democratized ecosystem also allows to break down cultural barriers and grants greater value for stories which are “co-created” (and shared) between the public and newsrooms.


The model does not work if there is a lack of communication between the public and the newsrooms. There should be an entrenched and direct communication between these two actors, a sincere dialogue and a positive cycle of exchange. Furthermore, the process doesn’t work if the newsrooms are stuck in a different mediatic era, meaning that they should be close to people’s information needs or potential lack of information on a subject. Within Hearken’s model it is the entire communication process between public and media that must be more harmonious and inclusive.


The news-sharing and story-creating activity between newsrooms and the public is based on active question-making: particularly, Hearken intends to revitalize the process of exchange between these two actors. Secondly, the creation of a community between the public and the editorial staff also gives a sense of democratization in framing the news, so that everyone can powerfully communicate and report a story that is more or less relevant to the public. Third, the collaboration between newsrooms and the public is useful for strengthening the link between the mediatic world and the public opinion.

(Published on Prague Media Point)


Facing Covid-19, there is a need for greater trust between newsrooms and the public. «The coronavirus amplified journalism’s sustainability», explains Natalia Antelava, editor in chief of “Coda Story”. In this sense, the public needs to shift towards a new dimension, also taking into account its growing needs and its ability to produce multimedia content. This aspect is also stressed by Jennifer Brandel, co-founder of Hearken, a company helping newsrooms to democratize the editorial process to create more representative and relevant coverage, engaging the public and approaching new journalistic frontiers. The relationship between newsrooms and the public should be harmonic and based on collaboration and reciprocal exchange. Hearken helps to improve the effectiveness of the relationship between media users and the media themselves. The latter «must listen more to their audience», explains Brandel, who has been working for years on solutions for greater integration between the public and the newsrooms. «People need to work together to solve problems», she says, and within newsrooms, a higher degree of democratization is needed. In general, «newsrooms are acting more like a parent, rather than a partner»; they should engage the public more, to enhance the power and the knowledge of the public itself. «Newsrooms should be servants, rather than parents» Brandel points out. The public must ask questions and ask them to the media. In fact, «opening people’s potential to new ideas to broaden their horizons and make them more involved» should be the new form of journalism. «Every story begins with a question»: the audience should be demanding and well engaged in a mediatic ecosystem. The public can investigate and help newsrooms’ activities in story-sharing, and sometimes even correct them. If the audience is comfortable with an active approach by the newsrooms, «people overwhelmingly could then feel closer to the newsroom and probably will engage again», Brandel stresses. Lastly, being consistent with the public is crucial for the newsrooms: never forget that «journalists make their job when they answer the public’s questions».

(Published on

Pubblicato da Amedeo Gasparini

Amedeo Gasparini, class 1997, freelance journalist, managing “Blackstar”, MA in “International Relations” (Univerzita Karlova, Prague – Czech Republic); BSc in “Science of Communication” (Università della Svizzera Italiana, Lugano – Switzerland)