Engaging Audiences via Online News Sites

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date


Digital Object Identifier (DOI)



As the Internet becomes an increasingly prominent medium for news gathering among members of the public, questions arise about whether the Internet can invigorate local constituencies. Hints of opportunity are apparent. The 2012 Project for Excellence in Journalism’s State of the Media report describes a rise in digital revenues for local newsrooms that may inspire more online innovation. And even while lamenting the state of local reporting, the 2011 FCC report brings several creative, local online projects to light (pp. 80-82). Chapters in this book by Chris Wells and Matt Hindman also illustrate ways of engaging citizens digitally. Wells categorizes organizations’ efforts at encouraging involvement. Several of the approaches Wells mentions are being used by online newsrooms, such as encouraging site visitors to share articles via Facebook, to participate in online surveys, and to discuss site content in comment sections. Hindman describes personalization algorithms that provide visitors with recommended links based on their browsing behavior. These individualized recommendations can increase the amount of time visitors spend on a site even more than flagging the most popular Web pages. Local news outlets also are making use of different strategies for recommending content. By helping site visitors locate content of interest, tailored links could increase time spent with local news. All of these examples signal the potential for engaging citizens online.

Citation / Publisher Attribution

New Technologies and Civic Engagement: New Agendas in Communication, p. 178-194.