The Dallas Morning News creates citizen journalism program

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The Dallas Morning News has launched an online citizen journalism program to engage new audiences by focusing on readers' passion areas. The Morning News recruited more than 50 passionate and knowledgeable contributors to form five online communities, providing the authors an opportunity for exposure on dallasnews.com.  

"Building these online communities has been a lot of hard work, but the payoff is the incredible insights that our insiders are sharing with us and our readers," said Michael Landauer, digital communities manager for the Morning News. "We look forward to learning more about these communities for years to come."

Of the communities that launched during April and May, three are dedicated to craft beer, special needs parenting and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) issues. Two additional blogs are location-based for the North Texas cities of Frisco and Richardson. Each online community has 10 to 15 contributors who post regularly.

In a short period, the insider blogs have already begun to generate attention for the Morning News. More than 20 percent of posts have at least 100 social media shares, and one post exemplified the potential of the online communities, receiving more than 1,100 shares, nearly 3,000 likes and hundreds of comments from users as far away as Egypt. Several entries have also been featured on dallasnews.com and two posts were used for print op-ed columns, which extended the reach of the insiders.

"We are committed to providing these communities a voice," said Jason Dyer, chief marketing officer of the Morning News. "With the highest comScore in the Metroplex, dallasnews.com offers our bloggers a unique opportunity to get people talking."

The Morning News is carefully selecting engaging topics to generate content readers want to share, which will help the publication reach new audiences. Success of the citizen journalism program ultimately will be gauged by the percentage of views and traffic the blogs receive from social media, as well as the time readers spend on each digital network.

After planning the online communities for more than a year, the content coordinators created a highly selective application process for the contributors. Once chosen, the Morning News held a workshop with editors and staff members to provide insight and generate content ideas.

Christine Ricciardi is the content coordinator for the digital networks, and Tommy Cummings launched the Frisco and Richardson insider blogs. Based on the outcome of the five original networks, the Morning News will launch additional online communities in the future.

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