There is an increasing number of new news outfits that depend greatly on the support of their communities. It is thus not surprising that many are turning into ways of engaging with their audience directly through community events. Such happenings aren't only a way to create closer ties with readers - they can also serve as an additional revenue source.
Nieman Journalism Lab reported on such efforts at The Texas Tribune. The Tribune has already hosted over 60 events, and in September it will put on a festival, presenting "debate, discussion and dialogue" on subjects that affect people in Texas. Evan Smith, The Tribune's chief editor and executive, said that such events are not only about journalism - although that is an important aspect of them as well - but they are also a way to produce revenue, from sold tickets and sponsorships.
This model seems particularly relevant for local non-profit news outlets as they rely greatly on the support and loyalty of their communities. But The Texas Tribune's success with events could be a valuable lesson for news organisations in general. Encouragingly, The Tribune is not the only innovative news outlet that is experimenting with hosting events.
It was reported earlier that Norran, a Swedish regional newspaper, has launched events aimed at strengthening the community. These include such happenings as a Christmas market and ice-skating lessons for immigrants, and it is also engaging its audience through other initiatives. Anette Novak, the paper's editor-in-chief, said that their belief is that money will follow engaging the readers.
So far, non-profits have been most active in hosting events. Nieman Journalism Lab reported on California Watch's "On Shaky Ground" investigation, which included a tour to interact with their audience. St. Louis Beacon, another non-profit outfit, hosts meetups for community members, Poynter reported.
If organising events makes it possible to both create closer ties with communities and provide an additional revenue source, they would seem a win-win initiative for any news outlet. There have also been signs of newspapers waking up to engaging more directly with their audience. Are there more such initiatives on the horizon?