"Covering" a story in the digital age...

Joy Mayer, an engagement expert and associate professor at the University of Missouri's journalism program, spoke at the Reynolds Journalism Institute's Innovation Week conference on April 23. She explained why it's necessary to expand what it means to "cover" an issue.


  1. In this picture from the conference, Joy Mayer looks like she's thundering from the pulpit. 
  2. But Mayer really spoke about getting journalism away from the "preaching on the mountaintop" approach to news and to, instead, embrace the act of storytelling as a two-way conversation. 

    She talked about how that means a redefinition of what it is that journalists do, even redefining the phrases that those in the newsroom might use, for example  "covering the story." 

    Mayer doesn't discount the notion that a reporter must gather information at the scene of a news event or that a journalist must pour through records and conduct interviews as part of covering a story.  Instead, Mayer insists that we expand the definition to one that includes the audience... what they need to know and how they might connect to that story.  

    Roger Gafke, RJI program development director, gave some of the highlights from Mayer's talk on Twitter:
  3. Covering the story, as Mayer put it, means taking advantage of the potential that had traditionally been left untouched by newsrooms. The collaborative journalist will look to invite the audience to react to what's being learned as the reporting happens and then the journalist will try to elicit response from the listener/reader/viewer when the story is published (see Mayer's slide below). 
  4. A year ago, Mayer was a fellow at RJI specializing in journalism and engagement.  Now she's teaching and heading up the engagement and community outreach at the Columbia Missourian. She's also spearheading the Public Insight Network project at the University of Missouri. Mayer says that she will attend American Public Media's second annual PINCamp, which we're hosting in St. Paul from May 15 through 17.

    We look forward to bringing her wisdom to the sessions. There's still time to join us at PINCamp ...  you have until May 1 to sign up

    And take a few minutes to look at Joy Mayer's complete presentation from RJI's Innovation Week... it's worth the time.